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Presented to the 


by the 




George Gregory, 

Bookseller to 

H.M. Queen Alexandra, 


H bo 

O a, 








Historical Side-lights from the discovery of Stone-Age, 

Celtic, and Roman remains ; also from the 

Etymology of local Place and Family Names, 

from Customs and Folk-lore, garnered 

from the Tithe-maps and Registers 

of Holcombe - by - Mendip and 

surrounding District ; with 

illustrative anecdotes, 

being personal 

Reminiscences ; 

The Rev. J. D. C. WICKHAM, B.A., 

Lord of the Manor of Holcombe. 
Rector of Horsington, Somerset, 1875-1897. 

With 24 Plates and other Illustrations. ^ 



Bookseller to H.M. Queen Alexandra, 

5, Argyle Street. 

■fi W- 

XonDon : 

HARRISON & SONS, 45, Pall Mall, S.W. 





IT may seem hardly worth while to write the history of 
such a parish as that of Holcombe-by-Mendip, with 
which so little of incident is connected. Like most 
villages situated " far from the madding crowd " and the 
great centres of political and commercial life, its inhabitants 
have lived their honest lives in quiet retirement — " The world 
forgetting, by the world forgot " — leaving no annals behind 
them ; their sons have made but little mark in any sphere 
of politics, literature, or warfare ; no conspicuous lions 
exist to tempt the curious feet of the sight-seer ; archaeo- 
logical societies come near, but pass by on the other side, 
the only bit of history having been lost sight of, they say, when 
the old Manor House was pulled down owing to its ruinous 
condition. Holcombe may, then, seem to be a village con- 
taining so little of interest as to afford no material for history. 
But this is not the case, for its interest, like its minerals, lies 
buried out of sight', and needs to be unearthed. This has 
been found to be true in a more literal sense than the writer 
intended. By the help of spade and pickaxe relics of the 
Stone Age and later Romano- British races have been dis- 
covered since these lines were written, and have given a 
notoriety to the village which it did not previously possess. 
Independently of this, however, other means of information 
exist which we are able to gather from the records of our 
terriers or tithe maps and our Church registers. These 
are our place and family names. We are apt to look upon 
them as mere arbitrary sounds, without sense or significance, 
and so we fail to read their teaching. But all such names are 
words formerly full of meaning. None were given at random. 
They were all at one time accurate descriptions of the places 
or persons to whom they were given. If we take the trouble 
to ascertain their original form and meaning, we shall be able 



to recover some lost pages of history and to verify others 
looked upon as apocryphal. This is a difficult though worthy 
task for the etymologist, who, by so doing, may throw floods 
of light upon the dullest scenes and invest the commonplace 
with new interest. As Isaac Taylor so well puts it : " In 
many instances the primeval meaning of these old names, 
though well-nigh faded away, may yet be recovered, and when 
so recovered, we have gained a symbol that will prove itself 
to be fraught with instruction, for it may indicate emigrations 
and immigrations — the commingling of races by war and 
contest, or by the peaceful processes of commerce, and may 
speak to us of events which written history has failed to 
commemorate." I would add that such names will give us 
valuable information about the physical changes which our 
country was subject to before the time those names were first 
given. All this and more may be learnt by getting at the 
root-meaning of our old place names. But it is a question 
of the old story of eyes and no eyes, or rather, in this case, 
of ears and no ears, for we may go about the world and see 
no interest in it, with shut eyes and closed ears ; or, on the 
other hand, as the poet says, we may find " tongues in trees, 
books in the running stream, sermons in stones, and good in 

There is another reason why, though the past of such a 
village as this may have been uneventful, its history may be 
worth recording. For after all, striking events are not the 
only things which go to make up history. The story of the 
past does not all consist of heroics. The daily round, the 
common task has much in it worth recording. The people 
behind the scenes as well as the actors who march across the 
world's great stage are worth considering. " All the world's 
a stage, and every man a player." Those who make history 
are not only the big people who fill its pages. They are 
often those who are the least conspicuous, just as the makers 
of the great coral islands of the Pacific are the humble 
zoophites, one of the lowest orders of creation. These humbler 
workers, who carry out the designs and plans of the world's 


Supreme Disposer, must be reckoned as worth something 
in the process, and this parish may boast of having had its 
full share of workers in the enterprises of olden days. Its in- 
habitants have attempted to do their best to turn to good 
account the natural products of the soil. Indeed, it is sur- 
prising how many industrial undertakings have here left 
their mark and memory behind them. Agriculture, coal 
mining, iron-smelting, glass-making, vine-growing, brewing, 
silk-winding, wool-combing, and dyeing, stocking-knitting, 
and hat-making have all had their day. 

Holcombe has also other claims upon our notice. Here the 
geologist may come and wonder at our upturned and almost 
inverted strata, due to violent volcanic upheaval in ages long 
past. The coal seams which interleave these strangely dis- 
turbed strata will one day, I suppose, be worked more exten- 
sively, and profit and employment be obtained thereby. Here, 
too, may come the ethnologist and re-people the hills and 
combes with the ancient folk — prehistoric men, Celts, Romans, 
Saxons, Normans — who have left the traces of their habita- 
tion behind them. Here the historian of our Church history 
may also find interesting illustrations of the influence exer- 
cised by the monastic bodies, as shown by the endowments 
left them in recognition of their usefulness and beneficence. 
The flora, too, of our valleys and hillsides may be found by 
the botanist to comprise many rare species, and as our school 
children well know, the commons are carpeted in spring and 
early summer with the brightest flowers. The visitor, too, 
will find that Holcombe affords a healthful retreat, owing to 
its pure and bracing air and supply of excellent water. Few 
it is hoped will be found to grumble as to the quality of this 
latter, as the old lady did elsewhere because the new supply 
laid on had neither taste nor smell ! Above all, Nature has 
given our village the charm of the loveliest scenery, com- 
manding, as it does, a view which is almost unique : which 
embraces southwards the line of the Mendip Hills, from Leigh- 
on-Mendip Church to the Cranmore Monument, and the 
Beacon ; northwards, the heights of Ammerdown, Lansdown, 


and Donkerry, with their conspicuous landmarks ; eastwards, 
Clay Hill, and the Salisbury Downs with the White Horse at 
Westbury, and the woods of Mells and Longleat, appropriately 
crowned by " Heaven's Gate." 


11 /^vF making books there is no end, and much study is 
IJ a weariness to the flesh," so said the wise man of 
old. If this saying was warranted in his day, how 
much more so is it now. From anyone, therefore, who 
ventures to launch a new book upon the public, a distinct 
apology is due. In my case this apology is all the more 
needed for one or two reasons. In the first place it is de- 
manded by the diffuseness of the work. It is a regular Olla- 
Podrida or Hotchpot, and all sorts of things are introducedj 
which perhaps will seem to have little bearing upon the main 
subject. Variety, however, is at least better than monotony, 
and may be as pleasing to the mind as light and shade are to 
the eye. Again, an apology is needed for the nature of the 
work. To attempt a history partly founded upon the meaning 
of place and family names may seem a rather rash under- 
taking. Fools, it is said, rush in where angels fear to tread. 
I trust I shall not be qualifying for a place in this category, 
for at least I am fully aware of the pitfalls which beset the 
amateur etymologist, and hope to be able to avoid them. 
Even if one may make a mistake now and then, this surely 
may be pardoned in consideration of the net value which may 
be realised from the results of such an undertaking. 

The monumental remains of old England, according to 
Mr. Ditchfield, ' are fast vanishing away, either under the 
destructive hand of time, or worse still, under the remorseless 
hammer of the auctioneer, which consigns them to foreign 
scenes and new homes across the seas. Such a fate happily 
cannot attend our local names, they are as fixed and immove- 
able as were the old natives or serfs of the feudal manor. But 
they may entirely lose their original meaning and be as good 
as lost to us as far as any revelation of the past is concerned. 
It is surely our duty to preserve or recover such relics, and to 



decipher their meaning before it is altogether too late. Though 
derivations may sometimes turn out to be erroneous, much 
may be recovered from this lumber-room of the past. Due 
care in tracing back the pedigree of words to their original 
source will obviate many mistakes. Searching comparison 
with other names over a wide area will check the tendency to 
hasty and rash conclusions. What we have ever to bear in 
mind is that the probable meaning of a local name is in 
inverse ratio to its most obvious and plausible derivation. 
Truth lies at the bottom of a well, and the true meaning of 
names follows this rule. All mere guess-work must be 
avoided. Dr. Johnson is reported to have once illustrated 
the danger of mere guess-work, by himself propounding a 
derivation by way of a reductio ad absurdum. He was asked 
by a prig what was the origin of the name Palmyra. His 
answer was, " Sir, Palmyra was so called because it's a hill 
with palms on the top and a bog below." This, however, 
has been capped by a satirical writer in the Saturday Review, 
who warned his readers against " pluming themselves on the 
discovery, that because ' Lama ' is a Mongolian term for a 
chief priest, and ' Beth ' a Semitic term for a house, and 
Lambeth is the palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury, there- 
fore the correct derivation of that name is " The house of the 
chief priest," whereas " Lambeth," as Isaac Taylor long ago 
showed us, is a Saxon word, and means the loam-hithe or 
muddy landing-place. Following this rule we need not 
shrink from the attempt to interpret the meaning of 
names, which when found will disclose a rich mine of 
historical treasure. My work has been much helped by the 
kindness of the custodians of the terriers (tithe-maps) and 
registers of neighbouring parishes. My thanks are due to 
those friends who have trusted me with their precious parch- 
ments ; also to Mr. Arthur Bulleid for his kind help with 
diagrams and photographs ; to Mr. H. H. Winwood for 
information as to the nature of the stones composing the 
barrow on Charmborough Hill ; and to Mr. Whitaker Wemyss 
for specimens of iron scoriae from Forest of Dean. Lastly, 


I must acknowledge my gratitude to a past President 
of the Somerset Archaeological Society for the excellent 
advice he has given to an amateur like myself in the 
following words : — " A parish history," he says, " should not 
only deal with the various old records touching the parish, 
its church, its Manor House, and the various families con- 
nected with the soil, but it should clothe the dry bones of 
Archaeological research with the flesh of popular and living 
interest, should describe the natural features and produce of 
the parish, animal, vegetable, and mineral, its agricultural 
trades and industry, both in the present and past, its camps, 
barrows, castles, and public buildings, and its ways of com- 
munication from the Roman streets and pack-horse route of 
the middle ages down to the bridge and railway of modern 
times. Last, but not least, it should preserve the traditional 
customs, ceremonies, local celebrations, field names, signs, 
games, superstitions, and other folk-lore of the parish, now 
so rapidly dying out of memory from the assimilating influence 
of the Press and National Schools." This advice I have tried 
to follow, with what success I leave my readers to determines 

Synopsis of Contente. 


First Excavations of Long Chambered Barrow, August, 1909, 
at Charmborough Hill. 

Field ca-lled Giant's Grave — The long-chambered type of Neolithic 
Age discovered. — Dr. Beddoe's report on same. — Flint flakes, leaf- 
shaped arrow-head, etc. — Magical use of leaf-shaped arrow-head. — 
Neolithic flint workshop. — Rifling and demolition of barrows. — 
Subsequent find of Roman Pottery and Coins. — Evidence of Cremation. 
— Roman Coins inserted in urns as pourboire to Charon. — Survival 
of Flint Industry at Brandon. — Present-day knappers. — Deer horns 
as picks. — Scraper used as gun-flint and strike-a-hght. — Remarkable 
survival of strike-a-light. — Used in Lovett's tinder-box in Boer War. 


Discovery of Romano-British Remains in Rectory Field. 

Trench, 4 ft. deep, opened in Rectory Field, September, 191 1. — 
Finds of pottery, fibulae, Roman glass, leaf-shaped arrow-head, Roman 
tiles, bricks, and nails, etc. — Roman pottery included Samian orna- 
mented ware. — Durobrivian ware ; terra-cotta vases ; mortariae. — 
Discovery of foundations of building, 70 by 26 feet. — Rough limestone 
and millstone grit at depth of 1 ft. 6 in. to 2 ft. — Evidences of structure 
of old Celtic tribal habitation for men and cattle. — Stilobats ; skill 
boosts ; open hearth ; crib ; latrine ; manure-sink. 


Place Names of Holcombe District. 

Vitality of Place Names. — Corruptions. — Instances in the district. 
—Phonetic spelling. — Plausible derivations.-— Place names revealers of 
past physical features, ancient history, habitation of past races. — 
Continuous peaceful settlements of Celts and Saxons indicated by place 
names. — Fosse way and Roman and British Roads. — Ancient industries 
illustrated by place names. — Village names in forests of Sussex and 
Weald of Kent. — Haunts of wild animals as place names. — Field names 
explained. — Names as allotment marks. — Names illustrating Natural 
History and Ancient Customs. — Sheep farming names.-— Names in 
agricultural use. — Fanciful and sportive names. — Derivation of 
principal place names in district. — Special place names. 


Family Names of Holcombe and District. 

Early value attached to and secrecy observed with regard to the 
name. — Normans introduce a second or surname. — Camden on value 



CHAPTER IV.— continued. 

of names. — Various origins of surnames. — The nick-name or pet-name. 
— Sir Walter Scott and the to-name. — Names derived from various 
callings in life. — Celtic, Saxon, Norman, and Danish names. — Names 
of Subsidy Rolls and Armada musters. — Origin and pedigrees of local 
families. — Names taken from mock titles of village players. 


Prehistoric, Celtic, and Saxon Rural Life. 

Comparative degree of civilisation of earliest inhabitants. — Boyd 
Dawkins' picture of Celtic village life. — Artistic talent of earlier cave 
men. — Commercial enterprise of early Britons. — Saxon line of invasion 
in Somerset. — Natives not extirpated. — The Saxon settlement and its 
sacred mark — "Neighbour's landmark." 


Medieval Village Life. 

Normans warriors, not farmers. — Dwellings of serfs and farmers. — 
Squatters at Holcombe and* Cole ford. —Duchy customs. — Potwallopers. 
— Description of inside of farmer's house. — Dress, food, and lights of 
peasants. — Mediaeval Manor House. — East wind ; Charles Kingsley, 
and King Edward VII.- — Subsidies. — Statute of labourers. — Wages. — 
Clothing of labourer. — Village top kept to warm inhabitants. — Diet of 
people. — Black Death, 1348. — Its ravages in Somerset and Holcombe. — 
Inefficient remedies. — Doctors, quacks, and charlatans. — Itinerant 
vendors of drugs and charms. — Receipts of Herbals, e.g., Lyte's and 
Turner's.— Sir Thos. More's picture of the poor man's misery. — Villein 
services at Glastonbury Abbey. — Murders and Kidnappings. — Lidford 
law and its history. — The Waltham blacks. — Kingswood and Selwood 
Forest Banditti.— Gentlemen poachers at Cranborne Chase. — British 
greyhound a famous breed. — Latin equivalent Vcrtragus. — Veltre 
alluded to in Dante's " Inferno." — Trials of Holcombe men at Ilchester. 
— Hue and cry method of village justice. — Special constables. — Prin- 
cipal games and sports of the people. — Butts ordered in every village. — 
Diversion provided by Manor Courts. — Church festivals and feasts. — 
Wakes and revels. — Scot ale at Deverell in Wilts. — Fairs. — Village 
tavern. — Survival of the Lantern Tavern at Holcombe. — Harvest 
festivities. — Bean feast. — Gleaners' bell in parish church at 8 a.m.' — 
Past and present condition of the people compared. 


Modern Village Life. 

Compulsory relief of poverty first ordered in 1535. — Act of Eliza- 
beth, 1 601, basis of present poor-law. — Labourer left to mercy of over- 
seer. — House-rent paid by overseers. — Parish poor-house instituted. — 
Uses of Church House. — Wages and allowance of poor in 1843. — 
Starvation wages during Napoleonic War. — Experience of an old man 
at Coleford, aged 90, when a boy. — Centralisation of poor relief. — 
Repair of the highways. — Stoke Lane appeals in 1664 against injury 
to roads by coal hauliers. — Roman roads. — Indulgences granted in 
mediaeval times for repairing roads. — Turnpikes. — Dickens' character 


CHAPTER VII.— continued. 

of pikemen.T-Macadam the " Colossus of Roads." — Stage coaches. — 
Caravans. — Jack Sprorson and other famous drivers. — Devonshire 
Jehu's reckless pace. — Motor-cars and aviation. — Education. — Dame 
schools. — Educational fads of the present day. — The criss cross. — 
Postal facilities. — Relays of couriers. — Franking. — Penny Post. — Sav- 
ings Bank.— Village Post Office. 


Agricultural Industry. 

Corn exported in earliest days. — Extensive tillage of Saxon 
settlers. — Open field three and two course system. — Ancient ploughs 
and plough teams. — Exhaustion of land by XVth century. — Change 
to pasture in XVIth century revives the land. — Aubrey's account of 
open fields in Wilts and Berks. — Leland's ride from Mid-Norton to 
Mells through champagne country in 1542. — 11,550 acres on Mendip 
unenclosed in 1794. — Pig-keeping and insurance society for same. — 
Sheep-breeding and reign of the Wool Kings. — Flemings imported by 
Edward III to teach the making of cloth. — " Farmer George " improves 
the breed of Mendip sheep. — Hollanders teach true rotation of crops. — 
Billingsley and the agriculture of Kilmersdon district. — Cultivation of 
flax in district. — Cultivation of woad at Keynsham, Mells, etc. — 
Utopian ideas of combining farming with other industries. 


Coal-Mining Industry. 

Early mining in Holcombe shewn by field names. — Lead groovers 
of Mendip and their grievances. — Great meeting at the Forge on Mendip. 
(Map to illustrate laws of the miners of Mendip.) — Coal known to, and 
used by the Romans as at Uriconium. — rKimmeridge coal money and 
the Romans. — Mineral coal burned at warm springs of Bath. — Holin- 
shed on the use of coal. — Low estimation of colliers in Shakespeare's 
days. — Coal works at Stratton mentioned by Camden. — Lease of coal 
mines by Duchy of Cornwall to John Salmon and John Tooker in 1674. 
— Complaints respecting entry for coal digging in Plumer's Close and 
Perthill by tenants of Duchy lands. — Average price of coal in district 
according to Billingsley. — Visit of Somerset Archaeological Society to 
coal pits at Radstock. — Eight hours day legislation. 


Iron-smelting Industry. 

Iron worked by Romans in Forest of Dean. — Iron scoriae re- 
smelted at a profit in Forest of Dean. — Iron ore smelted by British in 
Weald of Sussex. — Roman industry there discovered by Mr. Turner, 
of Buxted. — Bloomeries used to fan the furnaces. — Portable forges. — 
Catalan forges. — History of Dud Dudley. — Hammer ponds. — Survival 
of ancient method of iron-smelting by air draught and bloomeries in 
present day in African village in Lagos. — Discovery by the writer of 
ancient smelting furnace in Holcombe Mead at Holcombe. — Debris of 
cupola of baked clay, and quantity of charcoal and iron slag found on 
site. — Remains of old furnaces 4 feet beneath the turf. 



Vine Growing, Brewery, and Minor Industries. 

(i) Vine culture. — Vineyards at Holcombe indicated by field 
names. — Vines grown in England in Roman days. — Bede's and 
Camden's authority. — The " Vine Hunt" in Hampsnire. — Domesday 
notice of vineyards. — Gloucestershire wine commended by Drayton in 
" Polyolbion.' 5 — The vineyards in Bath and elsewhere. — Mr. Rider 
Haggard's vineyards at Ditchingham. — Controversy between Mr. 
Pegge and Mr. Fines Barringtcn. — Mr. Toke of Godington, in Kent, 
vinegrower. — Vinej'-ards at Glastonbury Abbey. — (2) Glass-making. — 
Fields called Glass-house. — Glass-house Farms elsewhere. — Glass made 
by the Romans in England. — Roman glass found by Dr. Guest at 
Rottingdean in 1848. — Glass house on the cliffs near Brighton.: — Glass- 
making in Gloucester in XIHth century. — Licence granted to John 
Cave by Queen Elizabeth. — Monopoly acquired by Admiral Mansell, 
under James I. — Iron ashes ground up into glass and sold at Bristol. — 
(3) Brewing. — Holcombe ale famous 50 years ago. — Holcombe Brewery 
in 1808. — Beer known to early Britons. — Barley the " English Vine." — 
Aquavite-man. — Brandy=Branded wine. — Measures in drinking pots. 
— Beer retailed at hd. per gallon in 14th century. — Rev. Wm. Ashman's 
prophecy fulfilled at Holcombe. — Old brewery cash-book. — (4) Wool- 
combing and dyeing at Hambridge. — Dye-house built, and small 
factory for combing, with stoves for heating the combs. — Denning 
and Jenks, middle-men from Frome. — Stockings and jerseys woven. 
—Mr. Urch, of Nettlebridge, purveyor. — Gloving pursued by women 
in cottages. — John Hancock, hatter, of Holcombe. — Importation of 
felt for hats. — Tall hats worn by Holcombe gentlemen. — Used as 
collection plates in church in author's memory. — Collapse of crown 
of one outside " Overend and Gurney's Bank." 


Strange Pains, Penalties, and Superstitions. 

Flogging vagrants. — Branding. — Drowning. — Cutting off ears. — 
Cucking-stool for scolds at Frome. — Scold's or Gossip's Bridle. — 
Norman's " Stretch-necks." — The Pillory. — Stocks for drunkards and 
vagrants. — Peine forte et dure. — Skimmington or " Skimmity-riding." 
— Persecution of witches. — Customs in various lands to avert evil eye. — 
Methods employed by witches to work evil.— Hawker of Morwenstow 
and his experiences. — Terrible method of witch initiation. — Tests of 
Witchcraft. — Witch- finders and exorcists. — Exorcism practised by a 
cleric in Cornwall. — Witch doctors. — Notoriety of Wincanton for 
witchcraft. — Persecution of Witches at Frome. — Case of overlooking 
at Shaftesbury in 1880. — Wise woman at Stalbridge. — Author vic- 
timised by popular prejudices. — White witches at Holcombe. 


Early Village Religion. 

Stone Age men's belief in survival after death. — Celtic nature- 
worship and animal-cult. — Tutelary Deities. — Wells held sacred and 
their omens consulted. — Druids and their religious rites. — Conquered 
in Anglesea and massacred by Seutonius. — Saxon religion gloomy and 
terrible. — Ancestral worship on family hearth. — Sanctity of the home- 
life due to Saxon ideas. — Saxon deities give names to days of the week. 
— Saxon missionaries sent out to preach at village crosses. 



Medieval Rural Religious Life. 

Old inscribed stone at Holcombe Church. — Norman church at Hol- 
combe. — Restored perpendicular church. — Sanctuaries. — Black Death. 
— Endowments at Frome Church. — Grants of land at Holcombe for 
Priory at Mynshyn Buckland. — Endowments from rent of fields at 
Holcombe. — Church Guilds and their self-sacrifice. — Light-men. — 
Church-ales. — Revels and wakes. — Influence of Religion on morals. — 
Clerical immorality. — Chaucer's parson. — Benefit of clergy. — Ben 
Jonson, branded for manslaughter, pleads his clergy. 


Post-Reformation Rural Religious Life. 

Advantages of severance from Roman supremacy. — Minor changes ; 
Bible no longer a sealed book. — Bibles chained to desk. — Paraphrase 
of Erasmus read in churches. — Prayers read in the vernacular. — Bp. 
Harvey Goodwin, of Carlisle, and the workman's daily prayer. — 
Discipline of Bell, Book, and Candle relaxed. — Prohibited seasons of 
matrimony. — Fast days. — Robert Gyan's penance performed in Wells 
Cathedral and North Curry Church. — Systematic preaching in the 
congregation.— Famous preachers of Reformation epoch. — Bp. Latimer 
discourses before Edward VI. — Bosom or manuscript preachers. — 
Their practical discourses. — Divines of James I's day indulge in riddles 
and puns. — Somniferous sermons of XVIIIth century. — Hogarth's 
picture of sleeping congregation. — The dog whipper and stop sleeper. — 
A bet made in the pulpit by dissenting preacher in Frome district. — 
Participation in worship by people. — Hearty responses. — Reaction in 
XVIIIth century. — Georgian era of slovenliness. — Author's early 
experiences. — The barrel organ strikes. — Clerical deficiencies. — Jack 
Russell. — Unpopular method of levying tithes. — Singular tithe dispute 
in Holcombe in 1736. — Rev. H. Raikes, rector. — Notice taken of 
national events in Church services. — Recognition of the duty of helping 
other churches. — System of briefs. — Instances of local expenditure at 
Holcombe. — Destruction of foxes. — Story of a well-known master of 
Fox Hunt. — Foundation of Wesleyan Chapel. — Effect of Wesley's 
preaching — -Reform in morals. — Rescue of profligate from the gutter. — 
New church at Holcombe. — List of Rectors. 


The Manor of Holcombe. 

Rival theories respecting origin of Manorial System. — Probable 
development from institutions of a free community. — Gradual steps of 
such devolution traced. — Farm " for a night." — Hunting progresses of 
Saxon kings through Somerset. — Saxon Theyn, Tenants, Geburs, and 
Geneats. — Rent Gafol. — Folkland and Bocland. — Heriots. — Merchet. — 
Relief. — Quit-rent. — The Pound and its Antiquity. — The Norman 
Ville.; — Tenants, Villeins, Neats, Cotters, and Borders. — GraT>d and 
petty sergeanty. — Halimot, earliest Manor Court. — Court Lee&v- 
Court Baron. — Customary Court. — Privileges of Housebote, Medge- 1 
bote, Haybote, etc. — Quit rent called white rent. — Herveius de Hole- 
combe, first Lord of the Manor. — Divides Manor between his two 


CHAPTER XVI.— continued. 
daughters. — Abbot of Keynsham holds hamlet of Holcombe and pays 
1 2d. to Lord of Manor of Kilmersdon in free soccage in 1302. — Simon 
Thorny, Walter de Folklond, John Pederton, Peter Barnfield, Thomas 
Horner, Sir John Paulton, subsequently Lords. — The Fortesque family 
possessed of the Manor. — Lord Clinton last of the family. Sells Manor 
to W. H. Salmon, 1734. — Left to Wickham family by J. E. Salmon, 



Sixty-eight Royal Forests in Queen Elizabeth's reign. — Windfalls 
to King after storm in 1222. — Principal trees of forest. — Oaks and their 
associations. — Gospel Oak and perambulation at Rogationtide. — The 
Ash and its superstitious uses. — Mountain Ash and Ashes of district. — 
Elm the weed of the soil. — The stump Elm at Westfield. — Beeches and 
their mast for swine. — Their bark used for letters in printing. — Walnut 
and its derivation. — Yew-trees in churchyards. — Pilgrim's Way planted 
with yews. — Their use for bows. — Glastonbury Thorn. — Imported from 
foreign land. — Its growth in field at Horsington Rectory. — Definition 
of a forest, in olden times, as covert for game. — Various species of deer. 
— The Saxon Hartsbath, afterwards Ford Abbey. — Origin of White 
Hart Silver. — The boar a beast of the forest. — Boar's head carried in 
procession at Queen's College. — Special Officers of the King's Forests. — 
Their symbols and Eyres and Swanmotes. — Norman King's wholesale 
afforestations. — Complaints respecting these culminate in Magna 
Charta. — Oath of the King's Forester. — Chief forests of Somerset 
enumerated. — Somerton a Royal Chase. — -Selwood, the willow wood. — In 
1540 30 miles round. — Mendip, its early boundaries and later extension. 
— Axbridge a hunting-box of King John.— Disafforestation of Mendip. 
— Mendip Lodge property afforested again by Dr. Whalley. — Savern- 
ake Forest and Marlborough College boys in 1852-58. — Squalors and 
squirrels. — Mr. Bosworth Smith's account of the forest when a boy. — 
The life of the forest full of romance and legendary lore^— Robbarj^s^ 
men and Drawlatchets. — Outlaws and vagabonds. — Robin Hood and 
his following. — Banditti harbour in the forests of KjngswJood*and 
Selwood, and at Waltham. — Charcoal-burners ; Purkiss and the Red 
King's corpse. — Basket-weaving, rush gathering, bark stripping, bee- 
farming, tending domestic animals, mining and quarrying. — Lead 
miners of Mendip. — Quarrymen of Doulting, Priddy, Emborough, 
Stoke Lane. — Bastard free-stone. — Doulting oolite, quartzite at Cook's 
quarry near Holcombe, principal stones of the district. 

Hist of plates. 

Frontispiece. Map of the Lead Royalties and Laws of the Miners 
of Mendip. Temp. Edward IV. 


I. Present Aspect of Charmborough Hill Barrow. Roman Coins 
.found in Charmborough Barrow. 

II. Flint Flakes found in Charmborough Barrow. 

III. Remains from Charmborough Barrow and Rectory Field. 

IV. Roman Pottery found in Rectory Field Trench. 

V.J Norman Pottery, Rectory Field. Fragments of Roman Mortariae. 

VI. Pottery shewing Work of the Lathe. 

VII. Nails, etc., Rectory Field Midden. 

VIII. The Author and his Excavations of Celtic House. 

IX. Foundations of Celtic House in Rectory Field. 

X. Trooper of North Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry. 

XL too Yards Range. 

XII. Presentation of Prizes, Holcombe Rifle Club. 

XIII. Iron and Lead Scoriae. 

XIV. Iron Smelting Furnaces found in Witcombe Mead. 

XV. Norman Arch of Porch, Holcombe Church. 

XVI. Capital in Norman Arch, Holcombe Church. Inscription on Stone 
of Capital, Norman Arch, Holcombe Church. 

XVII. License by Henry VIII to John Cable to alienate land for chapel in 
Frome Church. License by Richard II to permit endowment 
of land for S. Catherine's Chapel in Frome. 

XVIII. Sale of the Manor of Keyford to Roger Saunders, 1594, for ^500. 
Lease of Lands lately belonging to the Chantry of the Virgin 
Mary in Frome to Richard Williams. 

XIX. Religieuse de l'ordre de S. Jean de Jerusalem. 

XX. Rush-bearing in a Lake Village. 

XX r. Old Holcombe Church (Interior and Exterior). 

XX [I. Mendip Lodge (the Property of J. A. Wickham, of Frome). 

XXIII. The Author's Christening Feast at the Woodlands, Frome, given 
by J. A. Wickham, of North Hill, 1840. 


authorities perused an& (Siuoteb. 

Allen's (Grant) Anglo-Saxon Britain. 
Anderson (Corbet), Roman City oi 

Andrews' Eighteenth Century. 
Aubrey and Jackson's Wiltshire. 

Bardsley (C. W.), English Surnames. 
Bateman's Ten Years' Digging. 
Beckwith (Josiah), Blount's Tenures. 
Beddoe (Dr.), The Races of Britain. 
Billingsley's Survey of Somerset. 
Birch (Gray), Domesday Book. 

Braine's History of Kingswood Forest. 

Camden (W.), Remains. 

Cobbett's Rural Rides. 

Codrington (T.), Roman Roads in 

Collinson (John), History of Somerset. 
Conybeare (E.), Roman Britain. 
Cox (F. C), The Royal Forests of 

Cuzner's Frome Selwood. 

Da vies (Miss M. F.), Life in an English 

Davis's Agriculture of Wilts. 
Dawkins (Boyd) , Early Man in Britain. 
Denton's (W.) England in the XVth 

Dickenson (F. H.), Kirby's Quests. 
Ditchfield (R H.), The Parish Clerk. 
Drayton (M.), Polyolbion. 
Dudley's (Dud) Metallum Martis. 
Dyer (Thiselton), Old English Social 


Elton's Origin of History. 
Elworthy (T. T.), The Evil Eye. 
Elworthy (T. T.), West Somerset 

Evans' Ancient Stone Implements. 
Eyton's Somerset Domesday Studies. 

Ferguson's Surnames as a Science. 
Freeman's The Norman Conquest. 

Gomme (G. L.), Ethnology of Folk- 

Gomme (G. L.), Folk-lore Relics. 

Green's Making of England. 

Greswell's Forests and Deer Parks of 

Greswell's Glastonbury Abbey. 
Guest (Dr.) Origines Celticae. 
Guppy's Family Names. 

Hare (Augustus), Walks in London. 
Hawker (Robert), Prose Writings. 
Haydon (E. G.), Islands of the Vale. 
Hazlitt (W.), Dictionary of Faiths and 

Healy (Sir H. Chadworth), Somerset 

Henderson's Survival in Belief among 

the Celts. 
Hobhouse (Bishop), Churchwardens' 

Hone (Nathaniel), Manorial Records. 
Hugo's Mediaeval Nunneries of 

Hylton (Lord), History of Kilmersdon. 

Jackson (J. E.), The Manor of Glaston- 
bury Abbey. 

Jeaffreson's A Book about the Clergy. 

Jewitt (Llewellyn), Ceramic Art of 

John (C. A.), Forest Trees of Britain. 

Johnson's Folk Memory. 

Jusserand's English Wayfaring Life. 

Kemble's Saxons. 

Lower's Essays on English Surnames. 
Lysons' Our British Ancestors. 

Macaulay (Lord), History of England. 
McClure's Celtic Place Names. 

Mazzinghi (F. de), Sanctuaries. 
Mitchell's (A.) The Past in the Present. 

Nicholas' Pedigree of the English 

NichohV Forest of Dean. 


(H. P.), History of North 

Playfere's Sermons. 
Poyntz' Narration. 

Rhys (F.), Celtic Britain. 
Rogers (Thorold), Six Centuries of 
Work and Wages. * 



Rogers (Thorold), The Economical 

View of History. 
Round's Feudal England. 

Scarth's Roman Britain. 
Se'ebohm (F.), The Village Community. 
Somerset Record Society, Feet of Fines. 
Surtees Society, Durham Halmotes. 

Taylor (Isaac), Words and Places. 

Thorpe (Benjamin), Diplomatarium 
Anglicum Saxonicae. 

Treves (Sir F.), Highways and By- 
ways of Dorset. 

Turner (Wm.), Herbal. 

Vinogradoff's Villainage in England. 
Vinogradoff's Oxford Studies. 
Vinogradoff's Growth of the Manor. 

Watt (Francis), The Law's Lumber 

Weaver's History of Buckland 

Whitaker's History of Manchester. 

Wickham (H. D.), Life of Dr. Whalley, 
of Mendip Lodge. 

Wise (John R.), New Forest Scenery. 

Wright (T.), Wanderings of an Anti- 

Wright's The Celt and the Roman. 



Corrigenda et Bfcfcenfca. 

Page i, Line 21, For " rested " read " resting." 

,, 6, ,, 9, For " module " read " nodule." 

7, ,, 21, After " Scotland " read " also." 

,, 12, ,, 18, For " have " read " has." 

,, 16, „ 21 , For " mortarie " read " mortaria." 

,, 23, ,, 6, Before " Guest " read " Dr." 

„ 39, ,, 26, After " ethnology " insert " also." 

39, ,, 32, For " suffixes " read " syllables." 

,, 62, ,, 15, After " Stokeland " insert " and at " before 

" Holcombe." 

„ 64, ,, 15, After " kinds " read on without stop to " age." 

,, 76, ,, 25, For " suffix" read "prefix." 

,, 77, „ ii, For " suffix" read " prefix." 

88, ,, 10, After "goat" no full stop. For "Either" read 
" either." 

90, ,, 9, For " providence " read " Providence." 

92, ,, 24, After " years " insert " during widowhood." 

,, 108, ,, 21, For " Manriple " read " Manciple." 

,, in, ,, 22, Before " Hewish " insert " Huish." 

„ 115, ,, 32, For " beer " read " wheat." 

,, 170, ,, 13, After " there " insert " says Mr. Denton." 

,, 174, ,, 29, For " Minsham " read " Mynshin." 

,, 213, ,, 11, For " lunch" read " nunch." 

,, 222, ,, 17; For " had " read " has." 

,, 255, ,, 3, For " Whitaker " r ead "Colchester." 

» 154. .. 14. Foy " Anketyl " read " Ankarette, vide Plate XVIII. 

,, in, ,, 25 to end, see revise on slip there inserted. 


IRecorfcs b? Spa&e an& terrier* 

Chapter I. 


THE barrow upon Charmborough Hill, in a small field 
called the " Giant's Ground," having for some time 
attracted my notice, was explored in August, 1909. 
Lord Hylton, the proprietor, cordially gave his consent, and 
the tenant, Mr. Candy,. threw no obstacles in the way. Mr. 
Thomas Bush, Hon. Sec. Bath Arch, and Nat. Hist. Assoc, 
came over to superintend operations, and Jack White, an 
expert quarryman, of Holcombe, with Fred. Mines, an able- 
bodied and willing farm labourer, were employed to do the 
work. We had also a keen-eyed and zealous helper in Miss 
Gundred Haig. 

Interesting remains were soon unearthed at a depth of 
only two feet. These remains consisted of several human 
skulls and bones lying closely packed together in groups, 
generally between vertical stones, and sometimes overlaid with 
slabs of stone. These were all found in one part of the mound, 
in close proximity to the large entrance stones, and at the 
base of the two which still stand, apparently in their original 
position, at the east end entrance of the barrow. (Plate I.) 
(The third stone, which had evidently once formed the cap 
stone rested upon the other two, which were covered with 
earth, stood on its side further off.) Some of the skulls and 
bones were submitted to the inspection of the late lamented 
Dr. John Beddoe, whose report upon them is as follows : — 

" These bones are those of several individuals, differing 
" in age and sex ; unfortunately they are all so much fractured 



" and comminuted that I cannot derive from them any 
" certain or even fairly probable conclusions as to stature, 
" head form, or race type On the whole, one 


" may say that one man among the persons whose remains 
" are here, and that one most likely the chief or principal, 
" was a big, sturdy fellow ; but of his stature one can say 
" nothing." 

His mention of the " Chief " or " Principal " suggests 
the possibility of this barrow having been the last resting 
place of some chief man of his tribe, such as he of whom 
Ossian sings, " If fall I must in the field, raise high my grave — 
grey-stones and heaped-up earth shall mark me to future 
times — when the hunter shall sit by the mound and produce 
his food at noon. ' Some warrior rests here,' he will say, and 
my fame shall live in his praise." 

It was hardly to be expected that we should find many 
articles of value, as it is seldom, says Mr. Elton, that relics 
of any importance are found in British barrows of these early 
types. This fact itself besides its shape proclaimed it to be 
one of the stone-chambered barrows of the Neolithic race of 
men like those at Stony Littleton, Uley, and Nempnet in 
Somerset, Rodmarton in Gloucestershire, and Fyfield and 
Luckington in Wilts. 

But again, it was not at all likely that much would be 
found in the barrow, for no doubt it was not the first time 
that its contents had been investigated. Farmers may have 
disturbed it in order to obtain mould to throw over their 
land. Roadmen, too, had probably destroyed all trace of its 
original design when carrying off the stones, which formed its 
chambers, for the roads close by ; and another class of 
intruders may also have been there, treasure seekers, hunting 
for pots of money and other valuables, but trembling lest they 
should suffer at the hands of the giants and fairies supposed 
to haunt such barrows. 

This dread of offending the ghosts of the dead buried in 
such barrows prevailed much in earlier times among the 
uneducated classes, and tended to keep them from being 
disturbed by unscientific hands. Many instances are on 
record of too adventurous marauders who were scared away 
by the ghosts of those whom their own fears conjured up. 


A curious instance of this popular feeling, and the ex- 
traordinary effect it had upon the violators, is recorded by 
Westcote in his " View of Devonshire," and is told as follows : 
" A daily labouring man, by the work of his hand and sweat 
of his brow, having gotten a little money, was desirous to 
have a place to rest himself in old age, and therefore bestowed 
it on some- acres of waste land, and began to build a house 
thereon, near, or not far from, one of these barrows, named 
Broaken Barrow, whence he fetched stones and earth to 
farther his work ; and having pierced into the bowels of the 
hillock, he found therein a little place, as it had been a large 
oven, fairly, strongly and closely walled up, which comforted 
him much, hoping that some good would befall him, that there 
might be some treasure there hidden to maintain him more 
liberally, and with less labour in his old years ; wherewith 
encouraged, he plies his work earnestly, until he had broken 
a hole through this wall, in the cavity whereof he espied an 
earthen pot, which caused him to multiply his strokes, until 
he might make the orifice thereof large enough to take out the 
pot, which his earnest desire made not long a-doing ; but as 
he thrust in his arm, and fastened his hand thereon, suddenly 
he heard, or seemed to hear, the noise of the treading or 
trampling of horses, coming, as he thought, towards him, 
which caused him to forbear, and arise from the place, fearing 
the comers would take his purchase from him (for he assured 
himself it was treasure) ; but looking about every way to see 
what company this was, he saw neither horse nor man in 
view. To the pot again he goes, and had the like success 
a second time ; and yet, looking all about, could ken 
nothing. At the third time he brings it away, and finds 
therein only a few ashes and bones, as if they had 
been of children, or the like. But the man, whether by 
the fear, which yet he denied, or other causes, which I 
cannot comprehend, in a very short time after lost senses 
both of sight and hearing, and in less than three months 
consuming, died. He was in all his lifetime accounted 
an honest man ; and he constantly reported this, divers 


times, to men of good quality, with protestations to the 
truth thereof, even to his death." 

" We may estimate the amount of superstitious dread that 
pervaded society during the dark ages with regard to deserted 
buildings of the previous lords of the soil from the circum- 
stance that all the Benedictionals of the Anglo-Saxon period 
contain forms for blessing the vessels of metal and earthen- 
ware found in ancient sites, and relieving them from the 
spells which had been cast upon them by the Pagans, in order 
that the finders might use these vessels without any personal 
danger. It is a fact that during these benighted times when 
people found any. of the bronze figures or inscribed stones so 
common to Roman sites, they were under the greatest appre- 
hension of personal danger until they had mutilated them so 
as to counteract as they believed the charms of the old 
magicians. Having mutilated them they then flung them 
into the nearest river." 

However, in spite of marauders, some other relics were 
found besides the human remains before mentioned. Amongst 
them flint flakes abounded (Plate II), one or two of which were 
worked up into implements such as arrow-heads and scrapers. 
The site where these were found seems to have formed the 
workshop of a Neolithic flint worker. It was a deep channelled 
pit, probably once flanked with stone, where a man of small 
stature could have sat, while carefully chipping away, hour 
after hour, at the flint flake, and delicately finishing it off 
into its predestined shape. It must have required a very keen 
eye, and firm and light hand, to have turned out such delicate 
work as the arrow-head illustrated on Plate III, fig. i. 

The ends are perfect, a rare thing to find, as they generally 
were broken off, lest the dead should use them to their own 
hurt, and that of their friends. Possibly, of course, all these 
flakes and chippings which we found may have been deposited 
in the barrow as the burial accompaniments of the dead who 
lay close by, for their fancied amusement, and to keep up, as 
the custom was, the association of the past in their 
minds ; but their position and quantity pointed rather to 


an industry of the living, than to a superstitious custom 
of interment. 

This idea is confirmed by observations made elsewhere. 
The same thing is noticed, and is recorded by General Lane 
Fox and Professor Boyd Dawkins at Cissbury, a Camp on a 
commanding position on the South Downs. " The surface of 
the ground in and around the depression was covered by in- 
numerable splinters and by implements in every stage of 
manufacture, from the module of flint, fresh cut out of the 
chalk, and spoilt by an unlucky blow to the article nearly 
finished and accidentally broken. " In some places," Professor 
Boyd Dawkins says, " Mr. Ernest Willett and myself remarked, 
in 1874, little heaps of small splinters, which marked the places 
where the finer work was carried on, and in some of these were 
the two halves of the broken implements, just as they had 
been tossed aside by the worker."' 

In the excavation of Charmborough Hill barrow we also 
gathered together a quantity of these minute chippings just 
where we found the highly finished leaf-shaped arrow-head. 
This corroborates my impression that this flint arrow, and the 
other flint implements, which must at one time have existed 
in this barrow at Charmborough Hill, were not of foreign 
workmanship, but were manufactured upon the spot. Whether 
this mound was the habitation of some of those Neolithic 
men, who buried their dead in the place where they lived, is 
another and interesting question, and one which admits of 
some degree of likelihood. No doubt the Paleolithic cave 
men buried their dead where they themselves lived, and 
Boyd Dawkins says : — 

" The Neolithic tribes in Britain buried their dead some- 
times in caves which had previously been used by them for 
dwellings, and sometimes in chambered tombs which probably 
represented the huts of the living." 

The use of flint implements lingered on into the age of 
iron. The ancient harrows or " Tribuli " of the Romans, 
from which our word tribulation is derived, were armed with 
rows of flint flakes with which they just scraped and scarred 


the furrows. The leaf -shaped arrow-head we found has a very 
interesting history. It must have been used primarily for killing 
small birds and vermin of various kinds. It could hardly 
have done much execution as a weapon against a human foe 
or the wild beasts of the forest, as it was too small and delicate 
to inflict a severe and deadly wound. 

But apart from its primary, it had a secondary use, con- 
necting it with the witchcraft practised in ancient days. It 
was used as a shaft to transfix the waxen image which wizards 
made of any person whom they wished to persecute to death. 
These flint arrow-heads were popularly believed by the 
peasantry of Scotland and Ireland to be fairy-bolts, and were 
called elf-shots. They were often worn about the neck as 
amulets against this danger, and were set in silver by the 
wealthier classes. In the west of Ireland, especially in the 
Arran Isles in GalwayBay, they were looked upon with great 
superstition. The finder of one had to put it carefully in a hole 
of a wall or ditch, to avoid bringing it into a house or giving 
it to anyone. The islanders of Arran were very fond of making 
votive offerings of them at the Holy Wells on the mainland. 

In Scotland, in 1713, notably at Wick, in Caithness, the 
peasantry asserted that they were fairy arrows, and that the 
fairies shot them at cattle, which instantly fell down dead, 
though the hide of the animal remained quite entire, as 
indeed it well might, for one can hardly imagine anything 
being pierced by such a tiny dart. Besides these flints there 
were found several tines of red-deer horns. These may have 
been placed there to grace the hunter's funeral, and as a 
fitting accompaniment to his remains, as well as to enable 
him to carry on the consciousness of his former earthly life. 
They may, however, have had another purpose, namely, to 
serve as rude hammers with which to strike off from the cores 
of flint the flakes used for various implements. Such tools 
frequently were found in the old chalk pits, and were used to 
strike off the nodules of flint from the chalk. Part of a saddle 
quern was also found, which had, no doubt, been used with a 
large round stone as a kind of pestle and mortar for grinding 


in a rough and ready way the grains of corn grown on the 
small clearing close by. One pendant of a bone necklace was 
also found on this spot. Many pebbles, fossils of Ammonites 
and Belemites, curiously-shaped stones, one like a heart, small 
pieces of quartz and rock crystal, and shells were found in 
profusion. Snail shells were naturally there, as the site 
abounds with them, and they were common articles of 
food in early days. Some of these stones were used as 
amulets, charms, lucky stones, and as toys and bric-a- 
brac to please the eye and occupy the attention of the 
child-like dead. Others, no doubt, may have been used 
as sling-stones. Sir John Evans records many instances of 
these things being found in barrows, and of their superstitious 
use. Mr. Bateman, in his ten years' diggings in Derbyshire, 
has recorded numerous instances of their occurrence. A 
beautiful pink pebble, supposed to have been placed with the 
body as a token of affection, was found in a sepulchral cist at 
Breedon. Sometimes the pebble seems to have been actually 
placed in the hand of the deceased, as was the case in a barrow 
near Alsop, where a round quartz pebble was found in the 
left hand of the skeleton, and in another barrow on Beadon 
Hill, near Ramshorn, where a small pebble was found in the 
right hand. Sir John Evans says that " The Symbolism of a 
white pebble as representing happiness or a happy day was 
widely known." These stones might bear reference to the 
symbolism in Rev. ii. 17 : "I will give him a white stone, and 
in the stone a new name written which no man knoweth, save 
he that receiveth it." 

Other stones found in the barrow may have been stones 
of augury and divination, such as those the Druids used. It 
was customary in early times to deposit balls of crystal in 
urns or sepulchres — thus twenty were found in an alabastrine 
urn at Rome, and one was discovered in 1653, at Tournay, in 
the tomb of Chilperic, King of France, who died in 480 A.D. 
In Scotland clairvoyance and second sight are generally 
attributed to the virtue of these white stones and crystal balls. 
Magic stones were associated also with healing, and were 


known to be in the possession of wizards. Dipped in water 
they were held potent to avert the evil eye. They were 
sometimes treated as common property, and handed about 
from one patient to another. " Captain Archibald Campbell," 
says Mr. Henderson, " showed me one, a spheroid set in silver, 
which people came for from about ioo miles, bringing with 
them the water it was to be dipped in, for without that it was 
believed to have no effect on human beings." 

One more relic found in the same place merits our 
attention, it was what is called a scraper, which is an implement 
of flint, with a sharp, rounded edge, used to scrape the hair off 
skins for wearing. (Plate III, fig. I.) The one found on Charm- 
borough Hill is of the horse-shoe pattern, which seems the 
most general, but others existed, such as the ducksbill and the 
oyster shell forms. A certain proportion of these implements 
were also used for striking against iron pyrites, and in later 
days against iron and steel, for producing fire. The scraper 
has had a most interesting history. It is an illustration of 
the survival of an ancient industry and the development of a 
primitive principle. As we have seen, it is probable that the 
same stone implement was used as a scraper and fire pro- 
ducer, but its survival has been in its secondary and sub- 
sidiary use. To warm his house and light his steps in the 
dark was almost the first necessity of primitive man, and 
necessity was the mother of invention. As he could not hope 
to bring down fire from Heaven like Hephaestus, he must 
create it on earth. Friction was his first method : he rubbed 
two dry sticks together till he produced a spark. The 
need-fire of old, which means the friction-fire, was thus 
produced. Later on he improved upon this crude method. 
In the Isle of Mull, says Mr. Henderson, an oaken 
wheel was turned over nine oaken spindles from east to 
west, or a well-seasoned plank of oak was procured, in 
the midst of which a hole was bored. A wimple of the 
same timber was then applied, the end of which was fitted 
to the hole, or they used a frame of green-wood of a square 
form, in the centre of which was an axle-tree. Three times 




(/Sit nun. 


three persons were required for turning round by turns the 
axle-tree or wimple. They must all be men of chaste lives. 
So soon as any sparks were emitted by means of violent 
friction, they applied a species of agaric, which grows on birch 
trees, and is very combustible. This fire had the appearance 
of being immediately derived from Heaven, and manifold were 
the virtues ascribed to it. They esteemed it a preservative 
against witchcraft, and a sovereign remedy against malignant 
diseases, both in the human species and in cattle, and by 
it the strongest poisons were supposed to have their nature 

But this slow, cumbrous means of getting a light was 
superseded by one more scientific and expeditious, namely, 
the use of flint and steel, or flint and iron pyrites. " Flints," 
says Sir John Evans, " have been used as fire producing 
agents for 2,000 years. Flint mining was one of our earliest 
industries, perhaps the earliest. Two of the places where 
flint mining existed have been scientifically explored. ' The 
series of workings at Grimes-graves, near Brandon in Suffolk, 
explored by the Rev. J. Greenwell," says Prof. Boyd Dawkins, 
" consists of shafts connected together by galleries, from three 
to five feet high, which had been made in pursuit of a layer of 
flint, good for manufacture. When the flint within reach 
was exhausted, a new shaft was sunk close by, and a new set 
of galleries made — for the miners appear to have been ignorant 
of the use of timber to keep up the roof, and were therefore 
unable to work very far from the bottom of the shaft. In 
the old workings the miners have left behind their tools, picks 
of stag's-horn and polished stone celts, which fitted to the 
marks in the sides of the galleries, chisels of bone and antler, 
and little cups made of chalk,, evidently intended to contain 
grease for the supply of light. In one place the roof had 
given way, and the tools were found just as they had left 
them at the working's face." The flints which were thus 
mined at Brandon in these earliest days were originally used 
as scrapers and strike-a4ights ; but the latter use outlived 
the former. The flint strike-a-light was used before the 


discovery of iron in connection with the natural mineral iron 
pyrites, the very name of which, derived as it is from a 
Greek word for fire, is sufficient evidence of the purpose to 
which it was applied. But though the strike -a-light outlived 
and superseded the old scraper, yet it, too, had a renewed 
life in another form. It became the gunflint of the days of 
good Queen Bess. Flint locks were first used in her reign, 
and became general in the British army in the 17th Century, 
until percussion caps superseded them in 1835, an d strange to 
say the industry which was first started in those earliest 
British days has been carried on at the same place, and by 
the same type of men, to the present time." 

To-day, at this place in Suffolk, six men, all skilful 
experts, are employed. The flint is first mined by shafts 
sunk in the chalk. It is brought up to the surface without 
windlass, pulley or wheel. Not even a ladder or cage is used 
to bring up the miner. Hand over hand he mounts upon the 
rugged steps of rough flint left jutting out on the surface of 
the shaft side. He then takes the flint away to the town 
close by to be worked by other hands. 

The expert who works the flint in the town with a small 
hammer is called a knapper, from the sound of the tapping 
produced by his hammer. His method of working is this : 
''employing hammers of various weights, he quarters the 
unwieldy masses of flint, and proceeds to strip the block into 
flakes. He wears on his left leg a lightly-strapped pad of 
leather, on which he rests the core or block which is to be 
flaked. The core is held inclined at a slight angle, and the 
knapper, using a specially-shaped hammer, by means of a 
series of slight blows or, more correctly, taps, detaches flake 
after flake, which he dexterously sorts as he goes along. 
Some flakes are long and even, and are suitable for making 
two, or even four, gun flints. Others are adapted for strike- 
a-lights. Others are waste, fit only for road metal." Such 
is the method now pursued, as described by Mr. Johnson 
in "Folk Memories," and probably it was much the same 
in those remote ages. Certainly the method and principle 


used in flaking was the same, though the hammer is now one 
of iron, while the primitive one was of stone or deer's-horn. 
The object was not heavy percussion, but concentration of 
the greatest possible weight upon the least possible surface. 
This was effected by the make of the handle in each case. 
The same similarity is found in the early pick of deer's-horn, 
with which the flint miner knocked off his stones in the mine, 
and the one used by his present descendant. And, strange 
to say, not only are the present tools of iron the development 
in principle of the old ones of deer's-horn, but the present 
workers are evidently of the same type as the old. The 
actual race itself has not died out. The old British flint 
miners were of the long-headed, dark-eyed, dark-haired style 
of physiognomy, so are the present flint knappers of Brandon, 
who have kept the customs and trade in the same families for 
many generations. The same thing is found in the miners of 
the Forest of Dean. Their type of head and eyes and hair 
have not appreciably changed since the earliest days, when 
they worked the iron under Roman rule, just as the Moors 
who landed in Ireland have left a distinct trace of their 
invasion in the features and style of the people in the wild 
west of Ireland, and as the Iberian type of physiognomy 
lingered long among the Silurians who inhabited the country 
between the Severn and Wales. But our history of the 
flint mining industry development is not yet completed. 
There is still another chapter in the story of the persistency 
of the flint trade. 

The early strike-a-lights and gun flints have had a 
marvellous survival. The manufacture of gun flints was 
carried on at Crayford, Chiselhurst and Greenhithe in Kent, at 
Purfleet in Essex, Beerhead in Dorsetshire, at Norwich, and in 
parts of Wilts and Sussex, wherever flints were found. The gun 
flint, cousin to the scraper, says Mr. Johnson, is still used in 
America, Africa, in Austria and Spain, in primitive and old- 
fashioned fowling pieces, guns and pistols. The sizes are 
dependent upon the kind of firearm for which they are needed, 
whether pocket pistol, carbine, Dane gun or cannon. Not only 


so, but the primitive flint or strike-a-light is still in great demand. 
The old tinder box has had a great revival. The Lovett 
tinder box, containing a trimmed flint, bar of steel, and woven 
fuse, all neatly packed in a metal box, secure from damp, 
was sent out to the Boer war by the War Office. 14,000 were 
ordered, and each box was as serviceable as 300 times its bulk 
of matches ; and, strange to say, not only the soldiers on the 
veldt, but also the hunter in the South African forest, and 
many a backwoodsman in Canada, rancher in California, and 
shepherd in the wild fastnesses of Spain and Italy, have 
found the old-fashioned method of obtaining a light for 
their camp fires more reliable than the modern lucifer and 
wax vesta. 

What a triumph for antiquity ! How would the eye of 
the ancient Briton flash with pride could he see his old 
scraper turned into the gun flint and strike-a-light, and 
exalted into being used to light the modern Tommy's pipe, 
or planter's weed. Sic transit gloria mundi. 

One word more, for we have not yet exhausted all our 
information about this interesting stone barrow. Later on, 
upon further search, we found a considerable amount of 
broken Roman pottery, amongst which were four coins of 
the later Romano-British period. 

Here we evidently came upon a subsequent interment 
by Romano-British folk, where the bones had been cremated 
and placed in urns. Such use of older burial grounds was 
common, and was carried on in Saxon days. A religious 
sanctity was attached to all such barrows, even by conquering 
races. The presence of the coins is easily explained. They 
would be placed in the urns with the ashes of the dead as a 
kind of pour-boire for Charon, the grim ferryman of the Styx 
in order to pay for a safe passage across the river. 
These coins (Plate I) were those of : — 
Postumus . . . . . . . . A.D. 259-267 

Claudius Gothicus . . . . . . . . 269-270 

Constantius . . . . . . . . . . 304-306 

Constantine the Great . . . . . . 306-337 

Chapter II. 


THIS second chapter follows on naturally from the point 
where the first ended. It carries on the early history 
of the village from pre-historic to historic days. 
The interment of the Romano-British folk at Charm- 
borough Hill in the Stone Age barrow brought to light by the 
finds of broken urns, cremated ashes, and Roman coins, con- 
stitutes the link between the two, for by further excavations 
made in September, 1911, on the site of one of the Glebe fields 
near the Rectory, we are able to trace back the funeral party 
who reverently laid their dead in the old barrow, consecrated 
by the religio loci, to the village homes they came from, and 
to learn much about their life and its varied associations. 

The finding of some large pieces of pottery by Harry 
White, when employed in making a drain on this land, sug- 
gested to the writer the excavation which was made with the 
kind permission of the Rev. J. Coleman, the Rector, and Mr. S. 
Luff, tenant. 

This excavation was conducted to a depth of 4 ft. 
other smaller holes being dug in the same field. A large 
quantity of pottery was found at depths varying from 
1 to 4 feet, together with much burnt earth, charcoal, and 
bones of domestic animals. There was also found some 
Roman glass, two fibulae, a portion of a whorl, some 
fragments of lead, a good deal carbonised, a leaf-shaped 
arrow-head, a pocket of fine sand, Roman tiles, bricks, and 
nails in some quantity. (Plate VII.) Amongst the pottery 
was a large piece of Samian ware (Plate IV.. fig. 1), which had 
an ornamental design running round it, and a dog which was 
evidently pursuing a stag round the other side of the bowl. 
This must have been made in Gaul. Some pieces of shard, with 
indented and zigzagged lines and embossed borders, were 
also found. These were once glazed and coloured, and 
presented a different appearance to all the rest found in the 





field. They were probably Norman. (Plate V, fig. i.) Frag- 
ments of Durobrivian ware were also found, which must have 
come across country from Castor on the Nen, in Northampton- 
shire. (Plate III, fig. 3.) We almost wonder at this till we 
learn that relays of horses were provided along the main roads, 
and mansions or inns were stationed all along the routes to 
afford rough shelter to the merchants or pedlars on their jour- 
neys. The fibulae were of the bow-shaped pattern, made of 
bronze, enamelled, and much resembling our modern safety- 
pin. (Plate III, fig. 4.) They were used by ladies as brooches 
to fasten their tunics, and by men to fasten the Roman toga or 
British saga which was flung over the right shoulder, much like 
the plaid still worn by the Scottish Highlander. Sometimes 
we are told that the ladies used the pins as a weapon of offence 
against an obnoxious suitor or jealous rival. Sophocles 
makes (Edipus use one belonging to his wife, Jocasta, with 
which to destroy his own sight. The commoner pottery 
we found was of various shapes and colours. (Plate IV, 
fig. 2.) It included brown, red, dun, blue, and yellow ware. 
There were pans, vases, saucers, drinking cups, small food 
vessels and mortarie or culinary utensils. The only kind 
wanting were cinerary urns used for cremation, at least there 
were no pieces which had the usual overlapping rim common 
to most of such urns. The Terra Cotta vases were of chaste 
design ; either modelled or cast in a paste made of pipe or 
potter's clay, and a fine colourless sand, a pocket of which 
was found in the 4-ft. trench which we dug out. The 
blue-black colour of some of the ware was imparted to it by its 
being suffocated with the smoke of vegetable matter. The 
blue and slate-coloured vessels were tinted by suffocating the 
fire of the kiln at the time when its contents had acquired a 
degree of heat sufficient to ensure uniformity of tone. The 
red was produced by subjecting the clay to a stronger degree 
of heat in the burning, which destroyed the black and im- 
parted a red colour instead. The coarsest kind was of a dark 
brown or burnt umber shade, which was black inside, and 
when broken showed the black extending nearly to the 


Present Aspect of Charmborough Hill Barrow. 
See page i. 

™ w 


Roman Coins found in Charmborough Barrow. 

See page 13. 

fijflhflE&r # M 

*. L.IL 


■::. , e -:,^ 


Flint Flakes found in Charmborough Barrow. 

See page 5. 


outside. This kind was hand-made, and had not been turned 
on the wheel, as was the case with all the better kinds. (Plate 
VI.) None of the pottery had been sun-baked, as people some- 
times fancy when they see imperfectly baked ware. Had it been, 
the long burial in the moist soil would have reduced it to its old 
state of plastic clay. All of it was probably baked in smother 
kilns, where charcoal was placed round moulded clay, between 
slabs of stone, and fired in red-hot surroundings. No pig- 
ments were used, the variety of colour depending upon the 
completeness of the baking, the lightest-coloured articles 
being the most baked. It was all of the Roman type, though 
fashioned by Romano-British workmen. There is no such 
thing as Romanised British wares, the British type disappears 
before the Roman comes in, no intermediate stage being 
known. Some specimens were marked with parallel lines, zig- 
zags, and cross hatching. 

Besides this we found two specimens of a Roman mor- 
taria, which were studded with small fragments of grit to help 
the process of triturating meat and vegetables for the made-up 
dishes of which, considering the number of these culinary 
utensils found, the Romans seem to have been particularly fond. 
(Plate V, fig. 2.) The whorl (the half of which was found) was 
a small circular, perforated disc, used upon a spindle to act by 
its weight as a kind of rude fly-wheel, or, in other words, to make 
the spindle rotate easily while still unloaded with yarn. (Plate 
III, fig. 5.) It was used, and has been found all over the ancient 
world, in the Egypt of the Pyramids, in Assyria, in the Swiss lake 
dwellings, in the tombs of the Carlovingian Kings, and of the 
mound builders of North America, and wherever the spinning 
of yarn (the oldest industry in the world) has been carried on. 
Moreover, its use has survived into the present day, side by 
side with all our complicated machinery. Arthur Mitchell 
found the women of the Shetland Islands using one made of 
soapstone in i860. In 1878 he saw a potato substituted for 
the soapstone in another island of the same group. Further 
still the same implement is used now in India by the women 
of Dacca in spinning the yarn know as " Woven air," which 



is said to make the finest muslin in the world. This wonderful 
fabric is made with a spindle of bamboo not much thicker 
than a stout sewing needle, and the whorl is a little ball or 
pellet of unbaked clay, the lower end resting upon a piece of 
shell, because, slender and slight as the apparatus is, it is 
nevertheless too heavy to hang by the delicate thread. A 
rude practice and a rough-and-ready implement, it will be 
said. Yes, surely, but yet not to be despised — for though 
the modern appliance may be vastly superior to it, yet, 
for all that, there went brains to its invention, and skill to 
its manipulation, and it is beyond question that it can accom- 
plish certain feats which no machine can equal. This is not 
the only instance on record of the survival into modern days 
of an ancient type of machine. In remote country places, 
before the introduction of railways, the processes of spinning 
and carding were carried on in cottage homes by women with 
a simple loom, the pattern of which, says Mr. Fox, of Wel- 
lington, was hardly changed in any single particular from the 
model of ancient Egypt. This is mentioned in the second vol. 
of the Victoria County History of Somerset. One more special 
find carries us back to Neolithic days, viz., a beautiful little 
leaf arrow-head, such as we found in the Giant's Grave, but 
made out of an amber kind of flint, and with a notch at the 
head for attachment to the shaft. (Plate III, fig. 2.) This 
shows us that the age of stone did not suddenly cease, but was 
prolonged into that of bronze and iron, and this is, I believe, 
an established fact. Now, what did all these finds point to ? 
No doubt to the existence of some kind of establishment 
somewhere near, the trench in which these remains were found 
having been its midden or dust-heap. They seem also to 
show that, in addition to its other industries, that of pottery 
making may have been carried on in our village of Holcombe, 
not merely for local use, but for barter and sale. Roman 
pottery workings have been found elsewhere : at Shepton, 
where there were six potters' kilns, some of which were used 
for very rough ware ; at Huntspill, where pottery kilns and 
iron scoriae existed ; at Norton Fitzwarren ; at Burtles, 


where mounds containing hundreds of loads of Roman pottery 
were found; at Chilton-upon-Polden, where there were pottery 
kilns and moulds for casting coins ; and lastly at Bathampton , 
where there was much Roman pottery found, in fact every 
species from the fine red to the coarse black, together with 
iron scoriae. Why, then, should pottery not have been manu- 
factured on a small scale at Holcombe ? Why import it from 
outside when we had clay in the field ready to our hand ? 

In mediaeval days in Edward II's reign we know that 
pottery was made in our neighbourhood. The Roman road, 
which runs near Green Ore farm on Mendip is there styled the 
" Potter's Way," from having been used by persons of the 
trade coming thither, for the lead ore or pottern which was 
required in addition for glazing the inside of their vessels. 
Apropos of this there is a field in Dorset called "Tiley," 
which in an Anglo-Saxon charter is called "Tigelleah," or the 
potter's field, from A.-S. "Tigel" — a tile, brick, or pot, from 
which, strange to say, comes the name "Tuilleries," formerly 
itself a potter's field, afterwards a palace of Kings. 

Moreover, when searching for the Roman Villa, we 
found the foundations of a structure which had the appear- 
ance of a shed suitable for the baking of pottery or 
the smelting of iron. (Plate VIII.) This structure en- 
closed a space within parallel walls 70 feet long and 26 
feet wide. Its depth below the ground was 1 foot 9 inches. 
It was composed chiefly of rough blocks and pieces of lime- 
stone, with here and there a few slabs of millstone grit. 
There were three such parallel walls, joined together by a 
transverse wall at each end, and another transverse wall was 
found, 20 feet from the end, enclosing a square space, which 
was nagged with limestone blocks. Another short piece of 
wall ran a distance of two feet across. There was a large 
square hole, in one part filled in with four large square blocks 
of brown lias laid flat, with quantities of burnt charcoal under- 
neath. There were also two projecting slabs of brown lias in 
another hole which suggested the idea of a hearth-stone, under 
which fire was laid for roasting or baking pottery. In two 


places some stones were set up on end and formed a circular 
cavity which extended below into the wall. The relics of Roman 
tiles, bricks, nails, lead, and building material pointed to the 
fact that this place was used as an abode of some kind. 
It is not, of course, suggested that a manufactory of the 
modern type was here — on the limited liability company's 
system — but merely that all this pottery, which lay so thickly 
buried beneath the soil, had been made upon the spot, for 
domestic if not for foreign use. I only give this as a suggestion, 
and for what it is worth, and do not wish to be thought as 
stating a case. 

Since the above was written, fresh information enables 
the author to state more definitely what was the probable 
character of the original superstructure upon the foundations 
excavated in the Rectory Field. Everything seems to point 
to its having been that of a Celtic or Welsh family house, 
where men and cattle were sheltered under the same roof, and 
where most of the domestic industries were carried on. 

These " family " houses stood apart from each other on 
their own lands ; and in a place like Holcombe one such 
probably constituted the only substantial house in the village ; 
though there are distinct evidences in the same field which 
was surrounded by a rampart and ditch, of the existence of 
several wattle and daub huts, each enclosed by its wood 
palisade. Villages of this rough kind are scattered, we are 
told, with some frequency over the Downs in Wiltshire and 
Dorset. Their common characteristic is a complete lack of 
any regular plan. Their sites are marked only by a tangle of 
seemingly purposeless banks and trenches of very low relief, 
and the trenches which surround them are so slight that 
they cannot have served for defence so much as for drainage. 
Many of them have several wells, but their rubbish heaps 
reveal a decidedly low standard of culture, and there is a 
remarkable absence of all masonry, even of the most primitive 
kind. The more substantial houses above mentioned were 
not the dwelling places of a small family household, 
surrounded by a certain number of dependents, but were 


adapted for the joint occupation of a large clan living together 
and forming one common holding. Mr. Seebohm, in his 
interesting book upon the " Early Village Community," thus 
describes one of these large Welsh houses : " It is built," he 
says, " like the houses observed by Giraldus Cambrensis of 
trees newly cut from the forest — a long, straight pole is selected 
for the roof-tree . . . These trees are stuck upright in the 
ground at even distances, in two parallel rows, three in each 
row. Their extremities bending over make a Gothic arch, 
and crossing one another at the top, each pair makes a fork, 
upon which the roof tree is fixed. These trees supporting the 
roof-tree are called Gavels, forks or columns, and they form 
the nave of the tribal house. Then, at some distance back 
from these rows of columns or forks, low walls of stakes and 
wattle shut in the aisles of the house, and over all is the roof 
of branches and rough thatch, while at the ends are the wattle 
doors of entrance." 

We read elsewhere that the space included between each 
pair of these forks, gavels, or crucks, measured in the direction 
of the long axis of the building was called a bay, and the bay 
of sixteen feet became the unit of measurement, and the 
length of such buildings was estimated by the number of bays, 
including half bays, which they contained. This was the 
principle upon which all old houses were built, and it had this 
great advantage, that the bay formed a sort of architectural 
unit, for the building of one bay might be increased indefinitely 
in length by adding others. Moreover, the bay formed 
the unit of assessment or valuation, and so we are told by 
Mr. Addy, in his most interesting work upon the evolution of 
an English house, that buildings were sold or let by the bay, as 
cloth is sold by the yard. He quotes the passage from 
" Measure for Measure," where Pompey, the servant, says : 
11 If this law hold in Vienna ten year, I'll rent the fairest house 
in it after threepence a bay." He also tells us that the Welsh 
winter house was valued at twenty pence per bay, while the 
summer house, a much, less substantial affair, was only 
regarded as worth twelve pence. 


The reason why the length of these bays was invariably 
sixteen feet was no arbitrary one, but was determined by the 
space required for the accommodation of four oxen abreast. 
This was the space they would take up when ploughing in the 
furrow, which was sixteen feet in width, that is, one rod, rood, 
pole or perch. . Four such furrows of sixteen feet in width and 
640 in length, made the acre, and was a day's work for this 
yoke of four oxen abreast. So the length of the bay and the 
width of the furrow were both a rod, pole, or perch, and as it 
was considered desirable that the cattle should stand in the 
stall as they would have to do in the furrow, their stalls were 
placed between bays of 16 feet to allow of such a length of 
standing room. 

Mr. Seebohm tells us that " all along the aisles, behind the 
pillars, were placed beds of rushes called gwelys (lecti), on 
which the inmates slept. The fire was lighted on an open 
hearth in the centre of the nave between the middle columns, 
and in the chieftain's hall a screen ran between these central 
pillars and either wall, so partially dividing off the upper 
portion where the chief, the edling, and his principal officers 
had their own appointed places, from the lower end of the 
hall, where the humbler members of the household were 
ranged in order In this tribal house the un- 
divided household, comprising several generations down to the 
great grandchildren of a common ancestor, lived together." 

The word gwely, or bed, was used in a technical sense later 
on, and in the fourteenth century, in the record of Carnarvon, 
it became a synonym, for a family or tribal holding. So we 
read of the wele of so-and-so, the son of so-and-so, and the 
heirs of this wele are so-and-so. Probably also this was the 
origin of the term, wheale, used for a mine in Cornwall. 

This, Vitruvius tells us, was the oldest kind of building. 
" First," he says, "they erected forks, and weaving bushes 
between them, covered the walls with mud." The word 
" forks " (Latin furcce) was the regular term for such bent 
supports to the roof, which, as I have said, were called Gavels in 
Celtic, and]later on, as in the days of Chaucer, crucks, crocks, 


crutches. In the present day they would be called couples, 
but they do not spring from the ground now, nor are they 
supported on pillars as in olden days, but upon high walls. 

The walls of these houses were built of wicker work or 
wattles and daub. The British were famous for their wicker 
work. Guest says that from the epigram of Martial (14-99) 
and the name bascauda (bas-gawd) we gather that the Romans 
imported their baskets from Britain, and this, their native 
handicraft, seems to have been used by the Britons as late as 
the seventh century in the construction of their buildings. 
We learn from Bede's History, also, that this was the case, 
for he tells us that Bishop Eadbert removed the wattles from 
a church and covered the whole with lead, both the roof and 
the walls themselves. The old church at Glastonbury was 
" first made of twigs," says William of Malmesbury, " and 
afterwards relaid with lead," and the legends of St. Kelvin, 
and other early Irish saints, represent their dwellings and 
oratories as being of a like nature. There is every reason to 
suppose that some sort of improvement in construction took 
place under Roman influence, Roman tiles, bricks, shingles, 
and lead lying about on the sites of ruined Celtic houses show 
that the wattle and daub walls and thatched roofs had been 
relaid with these more substantial materials. But this was 
not done universally, nor was wood discarded altogether in 
the contruction of houses of the Roman type. Probably, as 
Mr. St. John Hope says, most of the Roman houses were of 
half timber construction, and only, to avoid the risk of fire, in 
the case of those warmed by hypocausts, were the walls 
carried up to their full height in masonry. So again, Mr. John 
Ward says, in his work on Romano-British buildings and 
earthworks, that the undisturbed floors of small buildings 
have been found without a trace of the walls that enclosed 
them, just as was the case at Holcombe, and the presumption 
is that they were of timber. Internal timber partitions, he 
goes on to say, are indicated by the chases in the floor for their 
sleepers or plinths, and rows of post-holes mark the sites of 
timber buildings, as in the fort at Ardock. Almost invariably, 


too, he says, the larger houses had stone foundations for both 
external and internal walls, but this is no proof that their 
superstructures were of masonry. Our existing old timbered 
houses have masonry plinths or basements, and there is good 
reason to think that this was customary in Roman times. We 
are, therefore, to this extent, justified in the assumption that 
a house of no small size and pretensions once stood upon the 
site discovered by us, although the foundations laid bare 
were of an unsubstantial kind, and there was no trace of any 
walling above ground. It must also be taken into considera- 
tion that the roughness and bareness of the foundations is 
probably due to the upper courses having been rifled and 
carried away for building purposes in post-Saxon times. 

It is unlikely that the Saxons, when they came, would 
have destroyed the tribal house, or much altered its original 
character, for as a fact the Saxon family house was constituted 
very much in the same way as the Welsh gwely or family 
holding. Doubtless they obliterated all traces of Roman 
workmanship, for, as seems to have been the case at Hol- 
combe, they burnt and trampled under foot every relic of 
Roman art and luxury, and flung the blackened ruins in- 
discriminately into a common midden, but the general 
structure of the house would suit them well, and it could 
easily be restored from the timber and twigs cut down in the 
forest near by. The side walls of the Saxon, as of the British 
houses, were constructed of wattle daubed with mud and 
clay, and the roof-tree was supported by pairs of bent oaks 
meeting at the top and forming a Gothic arch, with gables at 
the ends. These were strengthened by beams and wind-braces, 
and covered by planks and beams laid parallel to the ridge, 
thatched with reeds, rushes, and heather. Men, women, 
and cattle herded together in such a structure, which, under 
one roof, contained dwelling-house, stable, barn, and even 
threshing floor. The presence of the open hearth in the hall 
was of paramount importance, and so sacred were its associa- 
tions, as the altar of these early people, that it is no wonder 
that the hall where it stood was called the Fire-house, and that 


the faithful liege-men of the chief who gathered round it were 
called his " hearth -men." 

In Harrison's description of England, in Holinshed's 
chronicle, we read that in his days in country villages, which 
he quaintly calls " uplandish towns," each one made his fire 
against a reredosse in the hall, where he dined and dressed his 
meat ; the reredosse being a canopy of wood and plaster, or a 
wooden fireback coated with plaster, which stood behind the 
fire to protect the side wall from conflagration. Not that 
there was much fear of this, as the general use of peat reduced 
the risk of fire to a minimum. 

Buildings consisting of a certain number of adjoining 
bays, in which forks or crucks stretched across the whole 
space of the building and meeting together at the top, sup- 
ported the roof-tree, were not the only type of structure in 
those early days, though, on account of their relative cheap- 
ness, they were the commoner. There was another type, in 
which pillars or columns supported a middle room, or nave, 
with aisles on one or both sides. This type was called the 
" basilical," owing to its resemblance to the old Basilicas, or 
halls of justice, where a peristyle, or range of columns, ran 
down a square or rectangular open hall. These columns were 
based upon square blocks of stone or plinths called stilobats. 
They were naturally situated at the regulation length of the 
bay, and so would be sixteen feet apart. Posts, also for the 
partitions of the stalls, were placed at intermediate distances, 
according, as the standing was, for four or two animals abreast. 
The heads of these beasts faced the fire (so that they might 
not become rough-coated) in front, and they were served from 
cribs rilled with fodder from stacks in the hall. There was a 
room, or rooms, at one end which served as store-room and 
pantry, and retiring room for the women of the household. 
Above it there was often a chamber or bedroom, to which 
access was gained by an almost perpendicular staircase, 
starting from a corner of the room and landing directly in the 
room above. Outside the house, if not within, there was 
always a well, also a large stone hole, which served for a latrine, 







I 08 
■ ort tott 
n . I 1 ii ill., ill i ,. J 


Rectory Field, Holcombe, Somerset. Sept., 191 1. 

(AA) Deep holes for posts. (B) Open hearth. (C) Deep hole 3 ft. square. 
(D) Drain and manure hole. (EE) Stylobats. 



and another at the end of the stalls for the liquid manure. 
The cattle entered the aisle by a door at its end, and their 
stalls were at the end furthest removed from the partitioned 
room. These were the principal features of the old family 
houses, and if we look at the plan of the ground floor, we shall 
see good reason for supposing that the superstructure of the 
foundations we excavated was of this type. 

Here we find the marks of certain blocks or plinths of 
stone which were found upon the rough lime-stone basements, 
indicating the bases of the pillars which supported the nave 
or central hall. Here also we see the long aisle running down 
the side of the hall, and the partitioned room for a storehouse 
and granary, or parlour, and the block of stone on which, no 

(A) Doors. 

(B) Pillars with stone stylobats, sunken walls between each. 

(C) Fireplace. 

(D) Manure holes. 

(E) Skill boosts. (G) Latrine. 

(F) Hecks -feeding cribs. (H) Stalls for standing beasts. 

doubt, the open hearth lay, with its reredosse against the 
wall, for burnt charcoal and pottery, etc., were found in 
quantities and blackened the stones. 

Further evidence of the correctness of our assumption is 
afforded by the discovery, indicated on the ground-plan, of the 
actual sockets or holes in which the posts, called skillboostes, 
or boskins, which supported the partitions between the stalls 
of the cattle, were formerly firmly fixed, being packed in with 
stones to some depth in the foundations. In the early British 
village discovered near Welton by Mr. Carrington, similar 
holes were found nearly filled with flat stones set around the 



middle on edge, so as to leave a small space in the centre, 
which was found to be filled with earth and a dark- coloured 
powder as fine as vegetable ashes. The holes were situated 
over against each other, two on one side, and two on the other, 
and were three or four yards apart, and a yard deep. His 
conclusion is, as ours, that the holes were prepared for the 
reception of posts of wood which had been inserted into the 
ground and wedged in with stones, so as to secure them firmly 
in the desired position. 

Altogether the evidence seems conclusive that the old 
foundations at Holcombe once carried the walls and timbers, 
pillars, posts, and roof-tree of a combined dwelling-house and 
cow-house, or shippon as it was called, which, as Mr. Addy 
says, was the type of dwelling described in the Welsh laws as 
a " Winter-house.' ' This is the more likely, as Holcombe is 
situated in a part of Somerset anciently called West Wales, 
where the Welsh held out against the Saxon invasion till the 

Reconstructed Celtic House at Holcombe. 


battle of Bradford, and which, even in the time of Alfred, was 
reckoned as Welsh, since he speaks of its inhabitants as " his 
Weal-cyn " in his will. Further corroboration of the Welsh 
character of the district is found, as I have said elsewhere, in 
the numerous place names which are evidently Welsh, such 
as Walton, Welton, Walcot, Wallscombe, and names like 
English batch, English combe, which seem to show that the 
Anglo-Saxon settlements were for some time exceptions, 
rather than the rule. 

Moreover, we know that houses of this Welsh type have 
survived for a long time in other parts of England, and that 
numerous buildings of the kind were common in Yorkshire, 
under the popular name of coits, as Mr. Addy tells us. They, 
too, were built in the basilical form, and in bays of approxi- 
mately 16 feet in length. Many of them had only one aisle, 
like our Holcombe house. Foreign examples of such houses 
occur also in Friesland and Saxony to this day, the ground 
plan of these being that of a basilica with nave and aisles. 

" The walls," says Mr. Addy, " are made of timber frame- 
work rilled in with bricks, or in the smaller houses with wattle. 
They are thatched with straw and heather. There are up- 
right pillars, with beams stretched across them, separated 
from the ' floor ' or hall by the great pillars, and by small posts 
stand the cattle, their heads facing inwards towards the fire. 
In the background, about 6J feet from the back wall, burns 
the open fire, the centre of domestic intercourse. The smoke 
of the turf spreads through the whole building, which has 
its advantages, for it scares vermin away, and above it meat 
and bacon are both preserved and smoked. The space on 
both sides of the fire serves for kitchen, dining-room, living 
room, and bedroom alike." 

Such, then, was the house which once stood on the 
meagre foundations laid bare by us in the Rectory field. It is 
to be questioned whether, were we to search for it, a better 
house or villa, as it is called, would be found, for this probably 
represented all that went by the name of villa. We are apt 
to imagine that every " villa " was replete with art adorn- 


ment and luxury, and occupied by a pampered Roman 
official, or retired centurion, whereas, in truth, many so-called 
villas were merely the farmstead of some prosperous Celtic 
proprietor who lived in peace in the days of the famous " Pax 
Romana," and under Roman patronage. This, then, was in 
all probability the cradle of the village of Holcombe. Here our 
rude forefathers cooked their food, milked their kine, spun 
their yarn, knitted and wove their coats, hosen, and kirtles, 
made their baskets, and ground their meal, like Sarah of old, 
in the rude hand-mill or quern which stood ready for use in 
the vestibule of every house. From this small community or 
clan of some thirty or forty souls, supplemented by a few 
dwellers in the huts outside, has sprung the modern parish 
of 500 souls. How much we should like to know the name 
of the head and patriarch of that clan ! Did he bear one of 
the good old Welsh names still familiar amongst us ? Was 
he a Leir or a Craddock (Caradoc) ? A Mattick (Madoc) or a 
Morgan ? A James (Jamys), a Coles (Coel), or a Phelps 
(Phillips) ? Who knows ! 

Chapter III. 


WELL may the place names of a parish and district be 
called the beacon lights of history, since like sur- 
names they were not given at random, but with 
intentional purpose and design. 

They embodied some special feature, incident, or charac- 
teristic of the locality in the vernacular of the day. They 
have a wonderful vitality of their own. 

A well-known antiquarian says of our Somerset place 
names, that " they have survived the crash of centuries and 
all the dynastic and other changes which have swept over the 
country, like nodules and pinnacles of hard rock, which defy 
the tidal waves and storms. Of course the forms of these 
local names have not been so proof against corruption as are 
the fossils of the stratified rocks, or the bones of the early 
sepulchral barrows. 

Local names lie, as it were, on the surface, like ripple 
marks on the sands of time, and are subject to corrosion from 
successive waves of language passing over them in the long 
lapse of centuries. 

In their modern dress it is difficult to realise their original 
features. Who would think that Bridgwater was once 
Burgh- Walter, the castle of Walter of Douay ; that Vobster 
was once Forrester or Forster ; Shropshire, Scrobbesbyric ; 
Salisbury, Sorbiodunum ; Montacute, Mons Acutus ; Tanhill, 
St. Anne's Hill ; Tooley Street, St. Olive's Street ; Mincing 
Lane, Mynchen (Nunnery) Lane ; Hangman's Gains, Hammes 
and Guisnes, two foreign towns from which exiles came to 
London ; World's End, the wold's end ; Wend over, the wend 
or wind over the hills; The Kimbles, the residence of 
Kymbeline^ Shakespeare's Cymbeline; and, not to mention 
scores of other corruptions, that Bucky-Doo in Bridport, was 
originally Bocardo, a logical term signifying a final conclusion 



to an argument, and so given to a prison like that at 
Oxford, where Latimer and Ridley were shut up, because 
such a prison generally stood for the final conclusion of the 
prisoners' earthly life. 

Field names suffer more from this corrupting influence 
than place names. Indeed, it is often a hopeless task to 
decipher them ; take, for instance, some in this district : 
Brandies is the name of a field in Radstock, its original name 
was Brandiron. This is another form for " Andiron," or the 
old dogs used upon the open hearth. Again, in Radstock, 
there is a field called Gallicar. Its original sense is " Gauly- 
Acre," i.e., wet, clayey land. Haverfield, in Midsomer 
Norton, should be " Averfield " or " Oatfield." Grammer 
ground in Radstock and Coleford is not the place where 
grammar was taught, but means " Grannys ground." The 
Plague ground in Stratton does not indicate 'the spot where the 
victims of that scourge were buried, but " Plaguey " or 
troublesome ground. Worm Hill, in Radstock, is really 
" Orme " or " Oram's " Hill. Green Custard and Little 
Custard at Wellow signify " Orchards," the word Custard 
being an apple, as we see from the title costermonger, or the 
fruit-seller. Ladysmead does not mean the mead belonging 
to the Lady of the Manor, but the field in which formerly the 
open manor court was held — the " law days " mead. 

From all this we see how terribly corruption has dealt 
with our place names, and how difficult it often is to decipher 
their meaning. They have been clipped and contracted, 
elongated and reduplicated by successive races almost out of 
all recognition. 

" Syllables," says Home Tooke, " are apt to drop out of 
words like soldiers in a long march." And syllables, too, I 
may add, are apt to be tacked -on to words like carriages to a 
railway train during a long journey. 

One source of this corruption of place names arises from 
the natural tendency to spell them phonetically or according 
to their sound. Though, on the other hand, it is very interest- 
ing to note how the present local pronunciation of many names 


Scrapkr & Arrow-head, Charmborough 

Stone age Barrow. 
Arrow head, Rectory Field. 

.See pages 5, 9, 16, 17, i£ 

3.3.3. Castor Ware, Rectory Field. 

4.4. Fibula:, Rectory Field. 

5. Half of Whorl, Rectory Field. 




Roman Pottery found in Rectory Field Trench. 

See pages 14 and 16. 


has outlived their altered spelling, and can now be quoted as 
revealing their true derivation. In fact the vernacular pro- 
nunciation has lagged behind the advanced spelling, and so, 
in military phrase, has kept up communication with the base. 

Place Names. 

Another reason why these local names become so cor- 
rupted is the natural wish to assign a plausible meaning to 
words, to make them no longer sounds, but words, or as we 
call them, proper names. No cause has been so fruitful of 
error as this natural but hasty attempt to explain from the 
vernacular, that is, the common present use, and to bring 
into harmony with a supposed etymology, names of places 
whose real origin must be sought in the speech of past days 
and dead languages. Take Weary-all Hill, for instance, near 
Glastonbury : this is the modern version of Wyrral, a Celtic 
name descriptive of a hill-top, but the stiffness of the climb 
has suggested to a speculative etymologist a rough and ready 
solution of its meaning, and St. Joseph of Arimathea, who 
planted the sacred thorn, was the traveller who found the 
ascent so wearying. There is, however, apparently another 
place near at hand which shares the honours of the same 
corrupted derivation : this is Worral Park, famous as the 
settlement of the Flemish weavers introduced into Somerset 
by Henry VIII's minister, Lord Cromwell. We can easily 
trace the various stages through which the word Worral 
passed before it assumed its present shape. It started with 
" Over-the-Wall," this became Our-Wall, then the " u " 
was dropped, and became Or-wall, and this easily slided 
in common utterance into Worrall. 

Though local names have been corrupted from the 
earliest days, and field names still more, yet, as I have said 
they have a wonderful vitality and indestructibility, and are 
almost as stationary as the mountains and valleys. Man 
never continues in one stay, but the name he has given to his 
short-lived home on earth survives all through the ages. 
Take one illustration only. The name of the greatest city in 



the world, London, is an instance of this longevity of place 
names. The Romans did their best to change the old Celtic 
name into Augusta, but in vain. Prefects and Pro-Consuls 
might call it what they liked, but the old Celtic name continued 
in use through Saxon, Norman, and English times. It is 
curious to hear the Latin historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, 
writing that London was a name long gone out of use, and 
that it was to be for ever superseded by the grand Roman 
name of Augusta. 

So it has been with many a name even older than that of 
London. Their memorial is not perished with them ; and 
carefully considered and properly interpreted, these well- 
chosen and significant epithets — for all early names were 
epithets — may give us a clue at once to the language, history, 
customs, industries, and religion of the people who gave them 

The place names of our hills and vales, our rivers and 
forests, are of all the most durable. They are the only writing 
tablets on which the earliest nations have been able to record 
their pedigrees. But many place names seem to baffle all 
efforts to trace their origin. People changed names sometimes 
without rhyme or reason, and spelt them according to their 
own sweet will or fancy, as old Mr. Weller advised the judge 
to do in Bar dwell v. Pickwick with his son's name : " Spell it 
with a Wee, my lord, — spell it with a Wee." 

Still, as I have said, the origin of many place names can 
be traced, and their history will give us much information. 
Take our Mendip Hills. Who would have thought that from 
earliest times these hills were called by the word indicative of 
their mineral wealth : Mene, or Stone, and Dep = Deep. Or 
take the town of Chippenham, not far off in Wiltshire. This 
name reveals the history of the place. It was the market 
town of the early Saxons. Chipping refers to selling. On the 
confines of each Saxon settlement or mark in early times were 
open neutral places to which various tribes could come and 
exchange commodities, and buy and sell. These were the 
cheapings or chippings. When the words " Children sitting 


in the market place " occur in old Wicliff's bible, the word is 
" chipping." " Them ben like childer sittyng in chepinge 
and spekynge together." So Chapmanslade, near Frome, 
means the place where itinerant cheapmen bought and sold. 
Other market towns are called Chipping Norton, Chipping 
Hampton ; and we have Eastcheap in London, and Cheap- 
side. Or, again, take Stratton-on-the-Fosse. This is the 
Saxonised equivalent for " the street on the Fosse road." 
Street is the Italian " Strada," the Latin " Strata." The 
railways in Italy are called Strada Ferrata, the " Iron Way." 

When we think of it, we can shut our eyes and almost 
see the serried ranks of the Roman legion, and hear its 
measured tramp as it marches down the Fosse way, or Roman 
raised road, on its route to Ischalis, our modern Ilchester, to 
relieve the centurion in command of the company there. 
Then there is a " Street " in this -parish with the word Silver 
placed before it. This, needless to say, does not even faintly 
hint at the existence of a silversmith's shop, or of a mine of 

What does it mean ? The word " silver " is the Saxon 
corruption of the Latin " Silva," a wood, and Silver Street 
should be Silva Strata, or " the road to the wood." 

There are many such place names as these in remote 
country districts, where no shops existed. There is a Silver 
Street in Midsomer Norton, now a small town, but quite a 
country village when the name was given, and, indeed, within 
the memory of man. This also is " the road leading to the 
wood." There is another in Taunton, on the outskirts of the 
town, where it is very improbable that any silversmith 
exercised his craft ; and surely we cannot be in doubt where 
the wood lay to which our Silver Street and the Midsomer 
Norton one pointed its invisible arms. It could be none other 
than the forest of Selwood, in Latin, Magna Silva ; in Celtic, 
Coed-Maur ; in Saxon, Sealweald or the Willow-wood. 

Mr. McClure, Sec. of the S.P.C.K., is in favour of the 
derivation of " Sel," from Selva, which is found in Domesday 
for " a wood." In fact the name Silver Street is thus a kind 


of direction post pointing the pilgrim or worshipper to some 
great wood like Selwood, where the Britons' sacred groves 
lay, and the mysterious and awful rites of their Druid Priests 
were celebrated. 

These .sacred groves for worship were sanctioned and 
recognised by their Roman conquerors, who never forbad 
the heathen rites of their conquered subjects, unless they 
were immoral or disloyal. 

What more natural than that the great Magna Silva, the 
Selwood which extended much farther in all directions then 
than now, should be pointed to and recognised as the home 
of the sacred heathen rites, and an indication given of its 
direction, to guide the steps of the pilgrims towards their 
sacred groves. Well may we apply the lines of our Somerset 
poetess, Mrs. Rowe : — 

" Not far away for ages past had stood 

An old, inviolated sacred wood. 

This wood near neighbouring to the encompassed town 

Untouched by former wars remained alone. 

With silent dread and reverence they surveyed 

The gloom majestic of that sacred shade. 

None dares with impious steel the bark to rend, 

Lest on himself the destined stroke descend." 

There is a place still called " Little Silver," in the parish 
of Wellington. The late Mr. Elworthy says of it : — " Silver 
like Street, when found where no guild of silversmiths could 
ever have settled, may fairly be reckoned as a Latin survival, 
a Saxon form of a Roman word Silva." If this is so, then 
Little Silver in Wellington was once Silva Parva or little wood. 
In a note he says : " One of the ancient roads out of our town 
leads to Silver Street, via Ad Silvan, and to St. Philip's Well." 
It is a fact worth noticing, that both in Taunton and Wel- 
lington, Silver Street should lead south, in the direction in 
which we may safely say there was most woodland. 

Again, take " Chester." What is this but the " castra " 
or camp of the Romans, where the powerful second legion 
was placed to awe the Celts of Wales. 

So Cinderford and Sindershill tell of the vast heap of iron 


scoriae or ashes forming on a dry bed of a river a kind of cause- 
way on which to pass from furnace to furnace in the Forest 
of Dean in old Roman days. There is a field in Holcombe 
called Cinderhayes, hard by some furnaces lately excavated, 
where great quantities of the same iron scoriae are found ; and 
Sindercombe in this county tells the same tale. So again the 
names of various animals, now almost extinct, are chronicled 
by the existing names of places they haunted in old days. 
We have a Beverley, the beaver's haunt ; and Wolvesley, 
famed for its prowling wolves ; Brogden, Bagshot and Brocken- 
hurst, where of old the crafty badger started upon his 
poaching raids in Sussex, Hants, and Surrey. 

Then go into the districts where once the wild thickets 
of green Anderida stretched for one hundred miles from Kent 
to Hampshire, and shielded the flying Celts who cowered in 
its depths from the fierce Saxons, like hunted deer. Ask the 
numerous snug villages that now nestle in its open valleys 
what gave them their suffixes and terminals of Den, Hurst, 
Ley, and they will tell you that they were built when in the 
hollows and glades and felled clearings, wild boars and swine 
crunched the acorns, and timid deer browsed on the scanty 
herbage, or a squatter tilled the yellow acres round his rude 

From Petersfield and Midhurst by Billingshurst, Cuck- 
field, Wadhurst, Mayfield, Lamberhurst, as far as Hawkhurst 
Tenderden, Oxenden, and Cowden, these forest names 
stretch in a long, uninterrupted string. The same is true of 
the great Warwickshire forest of Arden, which reached from 
Dean to Shirwood, famous for our jolly outlaw, Robin Hood, 
Maid Marion, and Little John. 

Soho is an interesting place name in this neighbourhood. 
It was the Duke of Monmouth's watchword at Sedgemoor, 
and Macaulay says he adopted it because his house lay in Soho 
Square. The word " Soho " itself was derived from the 
customary expression used at the hunting of the hare. The 
cry of the " Berners," or men with the hounds, was " Soho," 
just as " Tally-ho " is the cry used with fox-hounds. The 


Mayor and Corporation of London, says the late Augustus 
Hare, were accustomed to hunt the hare where Soho Square 
now stands, and hence its name. Monmouth chose it as his 
watchword at Sedgemoor for old association's sake, and 
probably the men of Mendip called this district Soho in 
memory of their favourite but unfortunate leader. 

Another of the most useful and interesting purposes 
which these place names serve is to give us an idea of the 
extensive changes which the face of nature has undergone 
since the day when they were first bestowed. Thus our 
place names alone reveal to us the fact that where now smiling 
villages, verdant pastures, and waving cornfields exist, ages 
ago dense forests, undrained marshes, lakes and river-deltas 
covered the land and cast a veil over the face of nature. Or 
they may tell of the vast changes caused by the growth 
of our great cities, reminding us of sites where the bear once 
dwelt, and the wolf prowled in search of prey, and where the 
choicest flowers of the field bloomed in their solitary beauty, 
unknown and unculled by the hand of man. So Muchelney, 
originally Miceleneg, " the great Island " ; Thornrig, "Thorn 
Island " ; Zoyland, Saeland, the " sea land," i.e., the land 
once sea ; Middlezoy, the " land surrounded by sea " ; Lang- 
port, the " harbour for ships " ; convey to us an idea of the 
broad Somersetshire Lowlands, in ancient days, when the 
Severn waves covered the land, and carried up the broad- 
bottom boats to the base of the hill of Glastonbury. Gradually 
becoming filled up by the growth of weeds and by the deposit 
of alluvial soil washed down from the hillsides, these shores 
presented in the time of the Saxons a vast extent of bog and 
morass, inaccessible in many places, but studded here and 
there with drier and more fertile spots, which might be 
likened to the oases of the vast desert. The moors are now on 
a level with the sea at high water and in ordinary tides, and 
considerably below it in the high spring and equinoctial tides. 
They are secured from inundation by strong balks — called 
sea walls — extending along the shores of the Bristol Channel 
and the sides of the rivers, the mouths of which are 


secured by sluices and flood-gates against the influence of 
the tide. 

So again, many places of our Metropolis — Battersea, 
Bermondsey, Chelsea — tell the same tale. S. Martins-in-the- 
fields, Moor-fields, Long-Acre, Bethnal Green, Spitalfields, 
Seven Elms, Wormwood Street, Goodman's Fields, all speak 
of past days long before the city had been absorbed into a 
boundless contiguity of bricks and mortar. One can hardly 
imagine that in Battersea fields once grew a marsh weed 
called Polygonum Amphibium ; the Persicaria (another 
species) in Tothill Fields ; the cowslip in Hyde Park ; Docks 
in Camberwell Grove and St. George's Fields ; the Pimpernel 
at New Cross ; White Saxifrage in the Kent Street Road, on 
the chapel wall at Kentish Town, and on a wall near Chelsea 
Hospital ; Ragwort at Honour Oak, Peckham ; the water 
radish in Tothill Fields ; Bird's-foot trefoil in Westminster ; 
and many other flowers in various equally unlikely spots, such 
as Lincoln's Inn Field and Leicester Square. 

But this is not quite all, for the same place names tell us 
there were windmills in London : as at Windmill Street ; a 
water-mill in Millford Lane ; a bear garden in Tothill Fields ; 
an'annual fair at Mayfair ; and last, but not least strange, that 
children went nutting in Nutting or Notting Hill. All this, 
and much more than this, we learn from our place names as 
to the great changes which time has wrought among us. 

The ethnology of our island is greatly furthered by the 
study of its place names, and in examining them, we can 
deduce the local presence of Celt, Roman, Saxon, Dane, or 

The names of rivers, hills, and vales testify to Celtic 
occupation. Such names as Dur, Esk, Tavy, Thames, 
Avon (Afon), Axe, Tees ; and the suffixes Pen, Brin, Dun, 
Nant, Cwm, Coed, Dean, Den, being specifically Celtic. 

Few names remain to indicate the occupation of the 
Romans ; among these are Speen (Eng. : Spinney), from 
Spinetum=a thicket ; Chester, from Castra=camp ; the 
Fosse Way, from fossa=ditch ; Pontefract=Eng. : " broken 


bridge " ; Wick=a village, from the Latin Vicus ; and the 
numerous Portways from Portus=the road from port to 
port. Saxon sites of occupation may be recognised by such 
words as Ton, ham, borough, bury, stoke, or stoc ; weald, 
wold— wood ; cote, cot=a mud house ; and barton=the 
enclosure where the produce of the farm was stored. 

We have also distinct names showing where the Danes 
had landed and settled, such as thorpe, orme, worth, by, and 
wich— the place where salt was evaporated by the sun's heat 
in the creeks round the coast, such as Harwich, Saltwich, and 
also in inland places, such as Droitwich, Nantwich. The 
word " Bay-salt " itself tells the same tale. 

Many Norwegian names are found in the Isle of Man, and 
are recognised by the terminal " by," as in Colby, Greenaby, 
Sulby, Dalby ; and by that of wick, as in the bays of Perwick, 
Fleswick, Aldwick, and by Holm=island (c/. Steepholms and 
Flatholms) — clear evidences that the Norsemen sailed up 
our Somerset coast — and by Snae Fell, which is a pure Nor- 
wegian name meaning Snow-hill. 

This Norwegian nomenclature is easily to be accounted 
for, for the Isle of Man was conquered by Harold Hardrada, 
and for a long time was peopled by Norwegians. 

In the Eleventh Century the island was actually under 
the ecclesiastical rule of the Archbishop of Trondhjem, in 
Norway, who at the same time exercised episcopal juris- 
diction over the Hebrides, which were called the Sudoreys, 
and were joined ecclesiastically to the Isle of Man. The 
Episcopi Sudorenses till 1334 were always consecrated at 

It is only in name now, and by a kind of titular 
sovereignty, that the Bishop of " Sodor," the old Sudoreys, 
and Man can be said to have jurisdiction over the Hebrides 
and Man, for, strictly speaking, the former islands are under 
Scotch Presbyterian rule. In fact the two portions of the 
See are practically severed, and hereby hangs a tale, which 
the writer must apologise for telling. 

The late Lord Beaconsfield was once approached by a 


near relative of the writer with the request that if he could 
see his way to do so, he would bestow the vacant See of Sodor 
and Man upon a Colonial Bishop of high standing and an old 
friend of herself and family. The kindly statesman regretted 
his inability to comply with her request owing to another 
having a prior claim. " What a pity, though," said he, 
" that we can't give Sodor to the one applicant and Man to 
the other." This suggests "a soda split." 

We proceed now to our local and district place names 
and their derivations as far as they can be ascertained. First 
we take that of our own village, Holcombe. This name is 
descriptive of the situation of the original village. The last 
part of the word is distinctly Celtic or British — Cwm, and 
stands for a cup-shaped depression, a hollow, sloping place, 
and when coupled with the first syllable, the Saxon " Hoi," 
the name stands for a dingle or enclosed valley in the hills. 

Many places, especially in our Mendip Hills, are called 
combes. Often we have personal names, from the fact of 
habitation " in the combe." Such names as Ilfracombe, 
Yarcombe, Croscombe, Combe Hay, Combe Martin, Bat- 
combe, Hestercombe, Luccombe, Wedcombe, Motcombe, 
Westcombe, suggest themselves at once. 

Cumberland is supposed to be pre-eminently the land of 
Combs. The name has given rise to the well-known lines : — 

" There's Cumwhitton, Cumhatton, Cumranton, 
Cumrangan, Cumrue and Cumcatch. 
And mony mair Cums in the county, 
But none wi' Cumdirock can match." 

Some modern authorities, however, give the origin of 
Cumberland as being the land of the Cymri. 

The name is not found anywhere in the East of England. 
Surrey and Sussex have very few, Hants none, while Cornwall 
abounds in combes. 

Then, Ashwick is the " village (from Latin Vicus) famous 
for its ash trees," as OakhiJl probably was for its oaks, or, as 
some say, its oats ; Kilmersdon, anciently spelt Cynemeresdon, 
seems, as Lord Hylton says, to have something to do with a 


boundary as far as the syllable mere is concerned, and the 
terminal Don or Dun would suggest its having been a fortified 
place, which fits in well with its position on the borders of a 
territory. Charlton, of course, is the hamlet where the 
Ceorls dwelt, as Walton may indicate the privileged refuge 
of the conquered Welsh (Walys) ; Radstock is the stockaded 
settlement by the road (Rad), that is by the Fossway ; as 
Stoke St. Michael is again the palisaded village whose church 
is dedicated to St. Michael. Babington is the ton or enclosed 
settlement of the followers of a Saxon chief, whose name was 
Babba. Vobster, as before stated, is evidently a corrupt 
modernism for Forster, Forrester, a forest officer, or perhaps 
a forest lodge. The enclosure of Ralph Fobbester is spoken 
of in a feet of fines suit in 1233 between Robert de Gurnay and 
Brother Robert de Samford, Master of the Knights Templars 
in England. Leigh on Mendip was originally Lantocai, after- 
wards Lega ; Lantocai involves the Celtic Lan, first meaning 
an enclosure, then a church. Midsomer Norton seems a place 
name of doubtful origin, and had better perhaps be left alone. 
John Wesley, it is said, could find no other explanation for the 
word Midsomer than this — that it was a place which could 
only be reached at mid-summer, owing to its swampy situa- 
tion. Mells or Melnes, in Domesday, was probably so called 
from the mills upon its stream which were so much in use 
during the era of the wool trade for fulling and dying purposes. 
Chilcompton seems to have been so called as being the resi- 
dence of a personage of the name of Childe. Stratton, of 
course, like Stretton, Stretford, Stratford, owes its name to 
its situation on the old Roman Street, the Fosse, which, 
indeed, was a veritable street in the sense in which we now 
use the word as a paved way. Camerton, anciently Camer- 
larton, is so called from a small brook called the Cam, which 
rises at Camely, washes the valley, and empties itself into the 
Avon at Midford. Wellow, written Telwe in Domesday, was 
evidently a fashionable place in Roman days, containing a 
sumptuous villa and other Roman buildings. Julius Caesar 
seems to have been a popular hero there, as a field is called 


•■after him ; possibly, however, it may have been called after 
a black servant of Mr. Houlton, of Hungerford Farley. Pit- 
cott is the Picota of Domesday, and may be derived from Pye, 
a pigeon, and Cot, a house. It would then be the place which 
answered to the Dovecote. 

We come now to consider our field names and their 
probable derivation. 

Field Names. 

The commonest and simplest name is field itself, but that 
does not connote merely any place with grass growing and 
surrounded by a hedge. It has a specific meaning. It means 
a felled place, a clearing in the forest, answering to the Dutch 
Velde or Veldt. Moreover, it means an arable clearing, an 
open field, as distinct from a mead or pasture, or leaze. 

We have Littlefields, Northfield, Eastfield, Westfield, 
Fairfield, Three-cornered-field, and Homefield in many 

The word " Tynings " is almost a common-place field 
name among us, and occurs everywhere. It is a Saxon word, 
meaning " enclosure," and is akin to the " tine " of a deer's 
antlers, or the tines of a fork, being the root of the word 
" twig." 

" Hedging and Tyning " was a phrase in vogue here 
more than two hundred and fifty years ago, and in our old 
English forest law the " Tineman " was like the " Hay ward," 
only he served by night. 

Of Bamborough it is said that King Ina " timbered it 
and ' betyned ' it with a hedge." 

"England," says Isaac Taylor, "is eminently a land of 
enclosures, and we owe this beautiful feature of our country 
to the Saxons. They brought over the idea and the prac- 
tice of enclosed places for comfort and protection from 

This statement is contravened by Mr. Pulman in his 
Local Nomenclature. He says that "it is probable that 
fences and hedges are not of German, but of Celtic origin. 
The German principle of land ownership was possession in 



common, so that fences in Germany were but little needed* 
But the Saxons on their arrival in England settled down under 
very different circumstances. They found hedges already 
constructed in many parts of the country, and soon discovering 
the necessity of them, they adopted them accordingly. The 
probability of the Roman Britons having been the great hedge- 
makers is doubtless strengthened by the fact that they 
carried their propensity with them to Brittany after their 
voluntary exile from their native country on account of the 
Saxon invasion, and that that province became distinguished 
from the rest of France by being called ' The land of Hedges.' ' 

Certainly we see no hedges in France, except in Brittany. 
You may go from Calais to Paris and see only long rows of 
poplars fringing the Chausses, and miles and miles of open 
fields and plains stretching out beyond. 

As to Tynings, we have : — 

Marl Tyning . . 
Fosse Tyning 
Great Tyning . . 
New Tyning . . 
Toby's Tyning 
Phelps' Tyning 
Gaeby Tyning 
Blacker's Tyning 
Bridge Tyning 
Weaver Tyning 
Galloper Tyning 
Foul Tyning . . 
Middle Tyning 
Rex Tyning . . 
Welsh-Nut Tyning 
Middle Tyning 
Hell End Tyning 
Savage Tyning 
Top Tyning . . 
Phelps Tyning 
Marl Tyning . . 


Stoke Lane. 




Midsomer Norton. 




Poors Tyning . . . . . . Chilcompton. 

Great Tyning . . . . . . Mells. 

Mendip Tyning . . . . ,, 

Furlong, again, is another field denomination which is 
found here. It illustrates the open field system. 

The furlong, or shot of land as it is called, was a division 
of the common field forming a collection of strips of acre, 
half acre, or quarter acre size. It was a furlong, or a furrow 
long, in width, viz., 40 rods or poles. 

In length these strips were also a furlong or furrow long, 
which was the usual length of the drive of the plough before it 
was turned. The various strips were side by side, and each 
strip had a green, unploughed balk, of three yards width, 
between it and the next, and each shot, or furlong, or collection 
of strips, was divided by a wider balk covered by bushes and 

An amusing allusion is made to these balks, with their 
growth of bush upon them, in " Piers Ploughman's Vision," by 
the old English poet, Langland. He takes off the clergy of 
his day in these words : — 

" I have been priest and parson passing thirty winters, 
Yet can I neither chant nor sing nor read saints' lives ; 
But I can find a hare in a field or in a furlong, 
Better than in the psalms 

' Blessed is the man 
and blessed are all ye.' " 

The hare would naturally be found in the furlong, as the 
balk with its bushes and brake would be a good covert for its 

These " furlongs " frequently came to be called " lands." 
We have many examples of both terms. 

Flex Furlong . . . . . . Kilmersdon. 

Mill Furlong . . 

Flesh Furlond 
Fish Furlond Bush 
Red Furlong 




Mid Furlong . . 

Rack Furlong 

Long Furlong 


Black Furlong 

Battland Furlong 










Midsomer Norton. 





The word acre, too, frequently appears as a field name, 
and invariably implies that it was at one time or another, 
arable land under the plough. These acres had often their 
specific names to identify them when allotted, as they were 
separately and promiscuously situated all over the furlongs 
of the open fields. 

In our district we find 

School Acre 
Pig Acre 
Dane Acre 
Smoke Acre 
Bull Acre 
Quash Acre 
Hook Acre 
Goose Acre 
Spade Acre 
Hookey Acre 

In other places we find : — 
Gat acre. 


Midsomer Norton. 


Midsomer Norton. 




And not to mention more, last, but not least, God's Acre, 
the hallowed spot where His people rest. 

There was a day when the acre was what it really denoted, 
the " ager," or land open to tillage, the ploughland without 
thought of definite or statute measure, just as the " hide " 
stood not simply for so many definite acres, but for as much 
as the team of oxen could plough in a definite time, which, of 
course, must have varied according to the quality of the soil. 
An old poem has the couplet : 

" The foules up and song on bough, 
And acremen yede to the plough." 

The acreman afterwards became the acherman, akerman, or 
aikman, and was synonymous with the Plowman and Till- 

In the Anglo-Saxon translation of the Gospels there is an 
illustration of the origin of the word acre. The story of the 
Disciples walking through the cornfields, describes them as 
walking over the "aeceras," or acres. There is no idea of 
statute acres here. 

Other small details connected with the open field system 
find illustrations amongst us. Where the strips abruptly met 
others, especially on the boundary of the lord's demesne, they 
are called Butts, and we find that at Gnosall, Staffs., the 
people are fined 6/8 for not repairing their common boundaries 
called " le Butts." So we have : — 

Butts Close . . . . . . Holcombe. 

Butts Close 

Midsomer Norton. 
. . Wellow. 

Old Butts 
Butt Land 
Butts .. 
Butts . . 


The Butts is a familiar place name in Frome. 


Butts, of course, may be a relic of the well-known practice 
of erecting Butts and Targets in parishes, to teach the people 
to shoot the longbow, and so train themselves to defend their 
country. This was a universal requirement which none could 
evade. Even small boys had to learn with small bows pro- 
vided by their fathers. Special laws regulated the price of 
bows and the quality of the wood. Good English yew was 
most in request, and yews had to be planted in churchyards 
for that purpose. Hugh Latimer tells us that his father 
taught him how to draw, how to lay his body to the bow, not 
with strength of arms, as other nations did, but with strength 
of body. 

Then there were the corners of fields which could not be 
cut up into strips of an acre or its parts ; and these tapering 
strips were called gores, peaked acres, pikes or hooks. We 

The Gore . . . . . . Kilmersdon. 

Hookey Acre . . . . . . ,, 

Hatchet Hill „ (a Hacket, 

or hooked place). 

For key Acre . . . . . . Chilcompton. 

Three-cornered Field . . . . Wellow. 

Hook Acre . . . . . . Midsomer Norton. 

Corner Acre . . . . . . Radstock. 

Bithham . . . . . . Stratton, from A.-S. 

" byht," a corner 
or bend. 

Gore . . . . . . . . Stratton. 

Then there were little odds and ends which were unused, 
and were called No-man's-land, Any-man's-land, Jack's land, 
Deadlands. Here suicides were sometimes buried with a 
stake through the body, though generally the Cross Road 
was the chosen spot. 

We have : — 

No-man's-land Wellow. 

Deadlands . . . . . . ,, 


Cornish Grave . . . . Babington. 

Canard's Grave . . . . Midsomer Norton. 

Cornish Grave . . . . Mells. 

I have seen No-man's-land sometimes rendered " Ana- 

There is an extraordinary origin for these odds and ends 
of unused land. Gomme, in his "Village Community," says 
that these plots are analogous to the pieces called " Clou ties 
Croft," or Gudeman's Field, in Scotland, which consisted of a 
small portion of the best land set apart by the inhabitants of 
most Scottish villages as a propitiatory gift to the devil, on 
which property they never ventured to intrude. It was 
dedicated to the devil's service alone, being left untilled and 
uncropped, and it was reckoned highly dangerous to break 
up by tillage such pieces of land. In several places in Devon- 
shire similar patches of ground are also found. 

A happier explanation comes from the history of the Non- 
Aryan villages of India. A fragment of the primitive forest 
was left in the original clearing as a refuge for the Sylvan 
Deities whom the clearing might have disturbed. This shows 
us that we must go back very far indeed to prehistoric times 
in England for the first origin of these unused pieces still 
called No-man's-land upon our modern maps or in our 

Then we have numerous symbolic field names connected 
with lot meadows. Meadows for hay were divided out by 
lots into portions, and, like arable lands, were common open 
ground until laid up for grass. Every man had to erect a 
temporary hedge between his allotment and his neighbour's, 
and each lot had its symbolic mark to distinguish it. 

The lots were divided every year with a noisy ceremony. 
In Congresbury and Paxton in our county, two fields called 
Dolemead were apportioned every year by lots in single acres, 
each bearing a peculiar and different mark cut upon the turf, 
such as a horn, four oxen and a mare, two oxen and a mare, 
a pole-axe, a duck's nest, hand reel or a hare's tail. The 
tenants assembled on the Saturday before old Midsummer 



day. A number of apples were previously prepared, marked 
in the same manner as the above-mentioned acres, which 
were distributed by a young lad to each of the commoners 
from a bag or hat. 

At the close of the distribution each person repaired to 
his allotment as his apple directed him, and took possession for 
the ensuing year. An adjournment then took place to the 
house of the overseer of the Dolemeads, when four acres, 
reserved for the purpose of paying expenses, were let by inch 
of candle. 

At another place within the liberty of Warkworth, called 
Ashmeadow, a similar custom prevailed. Here, however, the 
marks are pieces of wood cut off from an arrow, and marked 
according to the land marks in the field. At another place in 
Buckinghamshire a common dockweed was cut into the 
required number of pieces to represent the lots, a well under- 
stood sign being carved on each piece representing crows' 
feet, hogs' troughs, and so on. These were placed in a hat 
and shaken up, and then drawn out after due notice had been 
given by a man shouting " Harko," and using some sort of 
rigmarole calling people to witness that the lots were drawn 
fairly and without favour. 

This system of marking land with symbols to identify the 
lots has been illustrated in other ways. Du Chaillu, in his 
" Midnight Sun," tells us that in Scandinavia every farmer 
has his own mark which he puts upon all his cattle, reindeer, 
and implements. This old custom is called " Bo Marken," 
and each has inherited a distinguishing mark from his 
ancestors. Every one has his own mark branded on the ears 
of all his reindeer, and no other person has a right to have 
the same, as this is the lawful proof of ownership. So it is 
still done in our Colonies. 

According to custom, no one can make a new mark, but 
must buy that of the extinct herd. If these are scarce, the 
price paid to the families that owns them is often high. The 
name of the purchaser of each mark has to be recorded in 
court like those of any other owner of property. In 



Ditmarsh and Denmark the owner's mark was cut in 
stone on the principal door of the house, on the stall 
in the church, and on the grave of the late proprietor. The 
mark was the symbol even of the man himself in those 
early days. 

The system of a symbolic mark is, I am told by Mr. G. 
Macmurtrie, used as a tally instead of a numeral in the coal 
pits at Radstock. The amount and quality of the coal which 
each gang brings up is identified and guaranteed by a special 
well-known mark. This is roughly drawn upon the tub of 
coal brought to the surface. 

These are popular marks : — A banjo, a cart-wheel, 
a gateway, a circle and dot, a square and dot, or a 

The field names of this district show evident proofs of the 
system being in full use here. They were symbolic, not in any 
way descriptive. 

Our Dolemeads in Holcombe were, no doubt, allotted by 
the mark system. 

Dole is a Saxon word which is derived from Dal, meaning 
a share or portion. 

We have great and little Dolemeads, and also simply 
" The Dole." 

Lot Meads is a later term for them. The Doles at 
Kilmersdon were situated on the South Down. 

Brandiron, or Andiron, in Radstock, now corrupted into 
Brandies, was evidently a symbolic mark for some portion of 
the field now called by that name. 

Other names are equally suggestive of the mark : — 

Shoulder of Mutton . . . . Wellow. 

Horse Shoe 




Wheel Paddock 

Palace Horn Croft 

The Four Pounds Hurdles 


Midsomer Norton. 



White Cocks . 
Hat Croft 
Hart's Ground 

Ash wick. 



Many of these, though perhaps not all, have a symbolic 
origin. But the symbolic use of the bird's nest to identify 
the lot is still more curious. 

Had we not distinct mention of their being so used, we 
should have said that here we had a pretty colouring of 
natural history. 

These names are : — 

Owl's Nest 

. . Kilmersdon. 

Swan's Nest 


Duck's Nest 

. . Stoke Lane. 

Duck's Nest 

Midsomer Norton. 

Owl's Nest 

• • 55 

Duck's Nest 

. . Ashwick. 

Duck Hay 

. . Mells. 

Swan's Mead 

. . Wellow. 

Pye Leaze 


Elsewhere the custom is verified by 

Duck's Nest 

. . Stratford-on-Avon. 

Pye's Nest 

• • 55 

Still more curious is Stoat's Nest, a railway station near 

Another symbolic mark which is very well known in the 
present day has a primitive origin. It is the broad arrow of 
our ordnance department. This was used by the constable 
of old, when, rod in hand, he divided the " Scot " into equal 
divisions. At the boundary of each division he used to cut a 
mark in the ground, which was called a "Tore," and which 
was very like the present broad arrow. The word Tore 
simply means sign, and was a symbol of royalty. We find it 
mentioned in old churchwardens' accounts under the cor- 
rupted name " Turk," as when we find this entry, " Paid for 
seting up a new Lion and Two New Turkes, £14 2 6." The 


same symbol of the Tore occurs in our churches, as symbolical 
of the Sun of Righteousness, and in our painted windows and 
"altar cloths, and is one of the earliest known emblems of the 
Holy Trinity. 

Next we come to the common place name, Ham, found 
among us at 

Lookham. Boxham. Millham. 

Leachham. Oxenham. Cotsham. 

Bytham. Rasham. Mullham. 
Ham Mead. 

The word " Ham " is Saxon, and may stand either for 
the seat or Manor, or home of the Saxon proprietor, or 
when short, " Ham," for a lush green meadow by the 

There are several fields in Holcombe, Kilmersdon, 
Stratton, and Midsomer Norton in which the word " Snails " 
occurs, viz. : — 

Snail's Paddock in Holcombe. 
Snail's Poor Hill. 
Snail's Bottom . . . . Kilmersdon. 

Great Snails . . 

. . Stratton. 

. . Midsomer Norton. 

Snail's Hill 
Great Snails . , 
Snail's Ground 

This mention of Snails probably takes us a long way back 
in the history of the district, and gives us an interesting bit 
of information as to the food eaten by the people in early 

Snails were undoubtedly a more common article of human 
food than they are now. They were considered a delicacy 
by the Romans, and it was very likely due to them, and their 
presence in these parts, that we find them so largely prevalent 
here. The Romans probably introduced them from Gaul. 
But most likely they were largely used before, by the earliest 
Celtic population, as I found large quantities in the chambered 
barrow on Charmborough Hill. However, the larger edible 


kind, called " Helix Pomalia," was probably a Roman impor- 

The Romans had, as Mr. Baring Gould tells us in an 
interesting communication to the Guardian of June 24th, 
1910, their, nurseries in which they reared them, as now in 
France and Southern Germany. 

These nurseries contained a large place boarded in with floor 
covered half a foot deep with herbs, on which the snails nestled 
and fatted. There is, at the present day, he tells us, a large 
importation of snails from Savoy for the Paris market, where 
they are sold at eighteen to twenty-four francs per thousand' 
Before they are fit to be cooked they must be made to disgorge 
the food they have recently eaten, or they may be unwhole- 
some. This is done by placing them in salt and water six 
times, till they are quite clean. 

Snails, like nettles, are at their best in early spring, when 
they feed on the young foliage. They are as tough as whelks, 
which are sold three a penny in the London slums, in summer. 

Many dainty receipts are given by Mr. Baring Gould for 
cooking and dressing up these snails, but they rather remind 
me of the story of the gipsy's flint soup, for which she begged 
a farmer's wife just a little salt and a little pepper and a few 
shreds of onion and a leaf or two of parsley, " And then, my 
dear, just an old knuckle bone*" ; and then, lastly, " just a 
little boiling water to boil up the flints." 

But that snails were largely eaten in olden days there 
cannot be a doubt, and that they are also quite nutritious. 

Two old miserly sisters, who lived in an isolated house on 
the Dart, flourished, we are told by Mr. B. Gould in his " Idylls 
of Dartmoor," for years on snails and nothing else, which they 
potted, and kept in jars on their shelves. When discovered, 
and forced to allow themselves a more liberal diet, they 
sickened and died. Their house was christened " Snaily 
House," a name which it long bore. 

Mr. Page, in his "Exploration of Exmoor," quotes the 
following from Home Chimes of March 7, 1885 : " Miss King 
tells a pathetic story about a ruined cottage on the side of 


Dunkery. It was, in persecuting days, the refuge of two 
Huguenot ladies, whose extreme poverty caused many 
remarks in the country-side, nothing but a small quantity of 
bread being seen to enter their cottage, which was ever 
jealously guarded from intrusion. After a time they dis- 
appeared, and the cottage was visited. Dead and fast locked 
in each other's arms were the poor refugees. The house was 
of course, searched for comestibles, but nothing was found 
beyond some pots containing slugs, on which, say the people, 
the exiles had subsisted." 

Gipsies now frequently eat snails. " We hook them out 
of the wall " (they told an inquirer) " with a stick in winter " 
(their season), " and we roast them, and when they have done 
spitting, they be a-done, and we take them out with a fork 
and eat them." 

A peculiarly large snail is found on the downs at 
Albury and Boxhill in Surrey, which was first brought 
to England by an Earl of Arundel, Earl Marshal, for 
his wife, an Italian lady, who had been used to that diet 
in Italy. 

The snail, has, however, a bad character apart from the 
cook shop. It was supposed to be very prejudicial to sheep, 
and was the horror of farmers. 

It was proved that a certain kind of snail did give disease 
to sheep. These " Snailey " fields, then, must have had an 
unenviable notoriety in the days of the sheep walks ; but as 
our poet says : — 

" There's nought so vile that on the earth doth live, 
But to the earth some special good doth give." 

And snails, if bad for sheep, were good for food, and 
especially for consumptive people. 

Barley closes are also found at Holcombe, Kilmersdon, 
Stoke Lane, Wellow, Ashwick, etc. The Rectory Field at 
Horsington was called Barley Close. 

Barley, of course, was used mostly for malting purposes ; 
but the Saxons may have eaten barley bread. 

" Quarr ground," that is, quarries, is a name found in most 



parishes except Stoke Lane, from which now most of the best 
road stone in the neighbourhood is quarried. At Stoke Lane 
a quarry owned by Wainwright & Co. is an example of remark- 
able geological freaks. Owing, probably, to volcanic action, 
a kind of volcanic lava — a basalt — has been thrown up through 
the later strata, and has been quarried for the roads, as it was 
found to be well suited to stand the wear and tear of heavy 

Another relic of quaint country humour is found in the 
frequent field names applied sarcastically and facetiously. 

For instance we find : — 

Small Gains . . . . . . Kilmersdon. 

Little Trammels 
Fill Pockets . . 
Lousy Ground 
Holy Ground 
Holy Ground 
Plague (Plaguey ?) 
Little Profit . . 
Thorny Ground 

Never Good Close 
Brake in Cloud 
Woman's Gain 
Botany Bay . . 
Small Gains . . 
Labour in Vain 
Jacob's Price . . 
Never Good Piece 
Starve Lark . . 

Starvington Farm, God's Blessing, Labour in vain, Botany 
Bay Farm, Charity Bottom, are also names in Dorset. 

Besides such characteristic names there are others which 
were evidently mere fancy names, and which had no earthly 




Stoke Lane. 


Midsomer Norton. 



propriety. We find them often elsewhere. In Dorset we 
find Mount Ararat, Bedlam, Menagerie, Marshalsay, Barbary, 
Bridewell. In the forest of Kingswood, " Gibraltar," Venus 
and Jupiter, as you like it. The queerest names are given to 
the pits in that district, as " Work and Hang," " Strip and at 
it," "Ready Money," "New Strip and at it," "Stay and 
Drink," " Go on and Prosper," " Long Looked For," " Little 
Scare Pit." 

The people of Mells seem to have been fond of these fancy 
names, such as Bilboa Mead, Jericho, Hell's End. There's 
no use attempting to decipher the origin of such names. Now 
and then, however, what seems to be a mere fancy name can 
be literally accounted for. There is a place called " The 
Tower of Babel " in Kingswood, near Bristol, which was so 
called because of the confusion of tongues there produced by 
the importation of a number of foreign workers from Holland' 
by John Champion to teach the natives to make spelter or 
zinc from Calamine. 

Several fields seem to bear witness by their names to the 
old use of marling for improving the land. Holcombe is 
almost the only exception, but this is accounted for by the 
richness of its soil. Billingsley mentions all the surrounding 
parishes as needing such treatment, but omits Holcombe. 
We have : — 

Grove Marl Pit . . . . Mells. 

Marl Tyning . 
Marl Ground . 
Marl Tyning . 
Marl Ground . 
Marl Pits 

Midsomer Norton. 
Ash wick. 

" Blue Hole," Kilmersdon, speaks of the Blue Marl found 

If we take chalk as a kind of marl — which it is — we have 
indications of its use in Whitacre and Witcombe. 

In all parts of the country we find marl-pits mentioned, 
and even Many-Marl-Pits. They are frequent in Surrey, 
Dorset, and Kent. 



Stoke Lane. 

Midsomer Norton. 


The undrained character of the land in early days is fully 
illustrated in our field-names, viz. : — 

Gallicar (Gauly Acre) . . Radstock. 

Rix or Rush 

Rushill . . 

Great Moor 

Little Moor 

Wet Ground 

Rush Ground 

Rush Close 

Rush Acre 

Gall Mead 

Rushes, however, had their notable use in early days. 
Before carpets, they covered the floors of manors, churches, 
and thatched the cottages, and when rotten, were used as 

The use of rushes in domestic economy has also another 
illustration. They were used for lights. Rushlights, or 
candles with rush wicks, are of the greatest antiquity, for we 
learn from Pliny that the Romans applied different kinds of 
rushes to a similar purpose, making them into flambeaux and 
candles for use at funerals. The earliest Irish candles were 
rushes dipped in grease, and placed in lamps of oil, and they 
have been similarly used in many parts of England. This 
economical practice was common till the end of the 18th 
century. A rush candle cost Jd. for 5 \ hours' light. There 
was a regular utensil for holding the rush in burning. The 
rushes for the use of the Church appear to have been supplied 
fresh only once a year, on the festival day of the Patron Saint. 
The houses of the nobility vied with each other in the number 
of times that they replenished their carpetting of rushes. 
Thomas a Becket set a good example in this respect of renewing 
the rushes, " for his hall," says the chronicler, " was every 
day in somer season staved with green rushes, and in winter 
with clean hay for to save the knights clothes that sate on the 
flore for defaute of place to syt on." 

Erasmus complains that the neglect of this cleanly 


practice was one cause of the plague, called the sweating 
sickness, and says, " I am confident the Island would be much 
better if the use of rushes were abandoned." 

Then there are a whole series of words used almost 
promiscuously and indiscriminately to denote sometimes the 
same and at other times different places. These are borough, 
barrow, burrow, berry, and bury. Strictly speaking bury 
should be confined to a fortified place, a place shut in by 
walls, and comes from beorgen, the Saxon for to hide, to 
shelter. Bergh and burgh are other forms of it. Borough is 
also strictly used in the same sense, and comes from the same 
root, but we call any place which has a town council a borough, 
whether walled or not. Barrow is another word similarly 
derived from the root to hide or shelter, and is only strictly 
appropriate to the hidden place over which a mound is raised, 
that is an old burial ground. Burrow is a variant for an 
animal's hiding place. Another similar word, not used now, 
was Beorgh — beorh. This meant an elevated place, arising 
above ground — a heap of earth — and from being first used as 
such it came to be employed to denote a tumulus. The term 
is used in Joshua vii. 26 : " And they wrought with stone 
one high heap (Beorh) over him." The word Byrigels, or 
Berills, a burial place, is another variant. The term " berry " 
means a large, open field, as Heselberie or Haselbury, Heytes- 
bury, iEschberie or Ashbury. Our Berryfield in Holcombe 
means a flat, open mead, and is rather a redundant expression, 
as much as to say, " open-field field." 

In this parish and district we have : — 

Charmborough Hill . . . . Kilmersdon. 

Broken-barrow . . . . ,, 

Upper Knobsbury . . . . Kilmersdon. 

Cadbury . . . . . . ,, 

Burrills . . . . . . Wellow. 

Big Berrie . . . . . . ,, 

High Barrow 

Woodborough or Woadbeorh Radstock. 

Berry Fields . . . . . . Holcombe. 


Beryls Pit . . . . . . Holcombe. 

Ashbury . . . . . . „ 

Cloaksbury . . . . . . ,, 

Milbury Knap . . . . Stratton. 

There is a remarkable field name in this category which is 
found in various places, and has been given various meanings. 
This is Brokenborough. It is the name of a field in Kilmers- 
don, close to Ammerdown lodge gate. 

The name Brokenbarrow is of common occurrence. Many 
derivations have been suggested for its origin. Isaac Taylor 
said it indicated the home of the Badger or Broc. A recent 
author of " Place-names in Wilts," says it denotes a hill 
clothed with bracken. The late Dr. Guest, in his " Origines 
Celticae," has a remarkable and picturesque explanation of 
the word. He is alluding to the village of Brokenborough 
near Malmesbury. " The name of Brokenborough," he says, 
" is what may be called suggestive. We readily picture to 
ourselves the King's steward settled in the Welsh town 
brewing his ales, salting his meats, and busily storing up 
wheat in his granaries, to be provided against the next occa- 
sion when his master shall pass down the Fosse from Ciren- 
cester to Bath, and at the same time we see the breach by 
which our ancestors first entered Caer Dur still unrepaired, 
though a Welsh garrison is lying only two miles off in the 
Castellum at Caer Bladon." " It is the old story — that con- 
tempt of enemies which has ever been characteristic of our 
countrymen, and which if it has often led them to victory has 
sometimes entailed upon them very humiliating reverses." 
We see here that Dr. Guest considers that a breach in the 
wall of a town is the origin of Brokenborough. Canon Jones, 
of Bradford-on-Avon, gave us another and far more natural 
origin for the word when he said : " We have allusions not 
unfrequently to tumuli which had been injured. There were 
spoilers of tombs in ancient as in modern times." Thus we 
often read in an ancient Charter, " to the broken barrow," 
and in one case we have the fact stated yet more explicitly in 
the words " to the west of that barrow that was dug or delved 


into." These are interesting extracts, as explaining to us the 
name of Broken-borough near Malmesbury. It appears in 
the Charters as Brocene-berg, and was, no doubt, termed from 
some broken or rifled sepulchral barrow on or near the spot. 

This last derivation seems the most likely as well as the 
most authentic. There is a variant of the name quoted in the 
account of the peregrination of Mendip. Here it is Cloven 
Borough which corroborates the truth of the derivation just 
given. Moreover, a barrow called Broken Barrow is specified 
(as mentioned elsewhere) as the site of the labouring man's 
treasure seeking attempts which ended so disastrously in 
his loss of sight, hearing, and eventually life itself. Let 
anyone, however, who has doubt on the matter, visit the 
field called Brokenborough, on Lord Hylton's estate at 
Kilmersdon, close to the lower lodge gate, and his doubts 
will vanish. There he will see the remains of a broken or 
cloven barrow, in the cavity of which some tall beeches have 
apparently flourished for many a long year. 

Then there is the name Hay, in Norman French Haie, in 
Anglo-Saxon Haga. It is applied to numerous places in the 
West of England, Villages, Farms, and Fields. Strictly it 
means a hedge — an enclosure. The Haga or Hay was the 
deer-fence put up for purposes of the chase, and removed 
when the chase was over. Hay was another name for a 
Park. Hay-bote was the supply of wood provided in Manors 
to the tenants for the repair of their hedges. The Hayward 
was the parish officer whose duty it was to see that the hedges 
were kept in repair. The Hague (correctly " Gravenhage," 
the count's hedge) was originally a hunting seat of the Prince 
of Orange. 

Haia is a term often used in Domesday. La Haie Saint 
was the name of the Farm round which the severest fighting 
took place at Waterloo, and which was at last taken by Marshal 
Ney. The English Ha-ha and Hawthorn, or Hedge-thorn, is 
its modern equivalent. Many places are named from this 
use of the word Hay : Westhay, Easthay, Uphay, Culverhage 
from Culfre, the pigeon field. 


In this parish and district we have the following names 
compounded of Hay : — 

Pittenhays. Haycroft. Upper Hayes. 

Madgehays. Hayes. Middle Hayes. 

Wreckhays. Silver Hayes. Lower Hayes. 

Haydon. Wellow Hayes. 

Testimony is also borne to sheep farming, and the reign 
of the great wool kings, in our field names, though not very 
extensively, as our district was not much suited for breeding 
sheep ; but there are sheep sleights, that is, walks, men- 
tioned. Kilmersdon has a shear close ; Wellow, a " washing 
stead " and a " great sheep " and " ewe stead " ; Babington, 
a " shiperidge " or " sheep down." " Sleights," or " sheep 
sleights," are found at Mells, Ashwick, Midsomer Norton, and 
Stoke Lane. 

Sheep Sleights . . . . Holcombe. 

Shears Croft . . . . ,, 

The Mendip sheep, though small, had good, long fleeces, 
and our excellent Farmer, King George III, greatly improved 
the breed by giving, through the Bath and West of England 
Society, a Spanish ram to that locality. 

Beans and peas give name to several fields, as Bean 
Ground and Peas Ground at Kilmersdon, also at Radstock, 
Midsomer Norton, and Chilcompton. 

The etymology of " Lipeyate " is interesting. Bardsley, 
in his local surnames, says : "A common object in the 
country lane would be the gate or hatch that ran across the 
road to confine the deer." The old pronunciation of this was 
Yate. Our gates, written once like yate, bear testimony by 
their numbers to the familiarity with which this expression 
was once used. 

But the word Lypeyate means something more than this. 
The first syllable is leap, and the word means the " leap 
gate," a gate that can be leaped one way only. When a royal 
park or hay lay close to a royal forest, as was the case here, a 
" sanatorium " or deer leap was made so that the deer might 


leap into the park, and yet not be able to leap out again. To 
effect this, the gate had a deeply sloping bank on the inside, 
but quite low on the outside, so that the deer might easily 
get in, but not be able to get out. No private owner had any 
right to such a deer leap, but it was often granted by license. 
We read that there was a complaint at Curry Malet in 1363, 
that in the park there, there were two deer leaps too close to 
the forest of Neroche. There is a deer leap still so called at 
Kelton, and also at North Perrott in Haselbury Park. 

As there was a private park at Walton, and not so far off 
lies Merryneld, formerly Merefelde, the boundary field of the 
King's forest of Mendip, there is every likelihood that this 
modern place name Lypiate, represents the old deer leap to 
that park. 

Occasionally such deer leaps were deliberately constructed 
in parks within a forest for the convenience of catching or 
herding the deer. But we find instances of deer leaps being 
objected to as a nuisance to the forest. 

If it was within a short distance of the forest, the Justices 
in Eyre had power to order their removal. 

At an inquisition at Somerton in 1364 the jurors com- 
plained of two deer leaps three miles distant from the forest 
as detrimental to the King's game and contrary to the assize 
of the forest. 

The Giant's Ground. 

This is the name of the field in which the long- chambered 
barrow lay on Charmborough Hill. The name may seem to 
denote only the existence of a local tradition. Such tradition 
may easily have arisen amongst a small race of men, who had 
been preceded by a taller and finer set, or amongst whom a 
conquering race of warriors, such as the Danes, who for a 
time overran our western shires had settled. 

Folk memory lasts long and traditions of this kind 
linger in a countryside for many generations. Professor 
Boyd Dawkins gives us the following interesting illustration 
of this. " Near the town of Mold there was a cairn known 
as Brin-ry-ellyllon, the hill of the fairy or goblin. Country 


people averred that the spot was haunted by a ghost clad in 
golden armour, and that from time to time they had seen him 
enter his abode. A day came when the tomb was opened by 
the antiquary. Within was the skeleton of a tall man 
equipped with a corselet of bronze overlaid with gold. Near 
at hand were discovered 300 amber beads, together with an 
urn full of ashes. This tradition must have been handed 
down for at least fourteen hundred years," for the cairn 
was not disturbed till 1832. More than 300 loads of stones lay 
upon the chieftain's full length figure. 

This shows that it will not do to scoff at all traditionary 
lore. But this word, Giant's Ground, does not denote a mere 
local tradition alone. It has a more specific meaning. It is 
the regular name given everywhere to such long-chambered 
barrows to distinguish them from those of other kinds. As, 
for instance, from those of the bronze age. " The great size 
of these particular kinds of sepulchral tumuli," says Dr. 
Thurman, " gave rise to their being regarded as the abodes 
or burial-places of giants." Giants' chambers or teteslar is the 
name by which they are commonly known in Denmark, and 
one with like significance, namely, Hunenbutten, is given them 
in Germany and Holland. 

The same name, Giant's Ground, occurs in the county of 
Wilts, where the long barrow of Fyfield is called the Giant's 
Grave, whilst the long-chambered tumulus at Luckington is 
known as the Giant's Cave. 

Giants' Graves are found in other places, which are also 
the sites of these Neolithic or stone age barrows. They abound 
in Cornwall. 

Borlase, the Cornish antiquarian, mentions their existence 
in the Scilly Isles, and the scare he created by exploring them. 
The natives thought he was hunting for hidden treasure, and 
when, on the night following the excavation, a hurricane 
arose and blasted the crops of corn and potatoes in the district, 
they were very much upset, believing that Borlase had 
offended the giant, and thus raised the storm. This fear of 
offending 4$e giants and incurring their vengeance may have 





prevented the complete destruction of many of our country 
barrows, like that at Stony Littleton ; but this does not seem 
to have deterred the treasure seekers or stone riflers at Charm- 
borough Hill, whose depredations have well-nigh obliterated 
the remains of this ancient barrow. 

Chapter IV. 


" T T THAT'S in a name," says doting Juliet, and goes on 
VV to 3 ust ^y herself by adding, "That which we 
call a rose by any other name would smell as 
sweet." So it might be with reference to inanimate things, 
but certainly this was not the prevalent notion with regard to 
human names in olden days. On the contrary, men thought 
that there was supreme importance in the name. The soul 
was in the name. It was therefore regarded as a matter of the 
greatest moment that a child should be called by the name of 
a deceased ancestor ; death was but a minor incident so long 
as the name was kept up. Thus we can understand the 
strong protest made by the kindred of Zacharias when he 
objected to his son being called Zacharias, and would have 
him called John, a name unknown in his family. 

In early times names were not given at random and 
arbitrarily as they generally are now. Then every name had 
its own special significance beyond that of mere distinction. 
They were names of happy augury and good omen (the 
" fausta nomina " of the Latin) or commemorative of some 
striking event, as Benomi, the child of my sorrow; Ichabod, 
the glory is departed from Israel; Benjamin, the son of my 
strength ; Abraham, changed from Abram, because he was to be 
the father of the faithful ; Israel, Jacob's new name because of 
his successful struggles with the angel ; Peter, the synonym 
for a rock ; Barnabas, the son of consolation ; Lazarus, God 
is my helper ; or last, and yet first, Jesus or Saviour, so called 
because of the sublime offices He was to fulfil. 

Names, indeed, were greatly esteemed in early days. 
" Primitive races were very jealous of any strangers knowing 
their names, or adopting these as their own. They thought 
that their names were identical with themselves, and almost 
part of their being. They thought that with their name were 



handed down to them the spiritual powers and virtues of 
their ancestors and their race. 

"To give away the secret of their name was equivalent, in 
their eyes, to giving away themselves. He, who got hold of 
the name, they imagined acquired a powerful though unde- 
fined control over the man himself. So they concealed the 
name from all but the nearest of kin, and never uttered it ; 
just as a savage objects to having his portrait taken, lest the 
artist should obtain control over him." 

This prejudicial fear of revealing the real name partly 
accounts for the very common early custom of the alias or 
second name, it being considered better to keep the real name 
a secret, lest in some way the owner should " suffer prejudice " 
from its publication. This may account also for the fact that 
so many Celtic saints had double names, for instance, St. 
Columcille, or the Dove of the Church (Columba-Kil), 
was called also by the opprobrious name of Crimthaun 
or wolf. 

It is also illustrated in scripture by the allusions we find 
to the secrecy of names, and the eager anxiety shown to have 
them revealed. " Tell me thy name I pray," says Jacob to 
the angel who wrestled with him, and over whom he pre- 
vailed ; so, when Moses was to go to the people of Israel in 
Egypt and deliver God's message to them from the burning 
bush, he asks to know what was His name, that he might 
satisfy the Israelites on this important point. 

To think lightly therefore of our names is as superficial 
as it is unprecedented. 

But not only so, for there is surely a moral virtue in 
names which we cannot afford to overlook. No doubt it is 
quite true, as old Camden says, that " neither the good names 
do grace the bad, neither do evil names disgrace the good," 
and again, " no name whatsoever is to be disliked by respect, 
either of origin or significance," yet after all it is only natural 
to be proud of a good name, and to count it as a title of honour. 
But this should lead to the further endeavour so well expressed 
of old by the saying, " Nactus es Spartam hanc orna," and 


in later days by the peer's motto, "Noblesse oblige." Nor is 
this confined to any special class in the community, for a pure, 
unstained name may be possessed by peasant and peer alike ; 
and it must always be borne in mind that manners maketh 
man, and that gentle is as gentle does, as much as handsome 
is as handsome does. 

So the man of the middle classes, the artizan and agri- 
cultural labourer, may pride themselves on their lineage, and 
seek to further adorn it. In any literal sense it is absurd to 
talk of being a " self-made man," for all are to a certain 
extent what their ancestors have made them, and should, 
therefore, take an interest in hearing about them and learning 
by what discipline they were fitted to fulfil their work in life 
as handicraftsmen, agricultural labourers, farmers, soldiers or 
sailors, or in whatever state of life God was pleased to call 
them, and in which they served their country and their parish, 
and maintained an honourable position in their day and 
generation. This interest is augmented when we find men of 
humble position bearing a name once distinguished in our 
history. The wheel of fortune carries many a renowned 
family name along till it completes the cycle of its existence in 
the lowly cottage. Our Beachems, Moons, Cottles, and Buttons 
are living illustrations of the fact that, under the shadow of the 
castle wall may be found simple peasants bearing the same 
names as its possessor. As Camden says : " Time hath inter- 
mingled and confused all, and we are all come to this present 
by successive variable descents from high and low, or more 
plainly, the low are descended from the high, and contrariwise 
the high from the low." 

The Norman conquest effected two great changes in our 
system of names. First, it brought in personal names, taken 
from the Roman calendar of saints or from Greek and Latin 
sources. The Saxons had no such names. No layman bore 
any but a teutonic name, from Augustine to William the 
Conqueror. Godwin, Alfric, Edward, Ethelred, Ethelbald, 
Edmund, Edgyth, Mildred, and Audrey were typical of Saxon 
personal names, but with the Conqueror came in such names 


as Robert, William, Richard, Gilbert, Alan, Margaret, Agatha, 
Katherine, Matilda, Denyse, and Juliana. Our Edmund and 
Edward almost alone survived, because their kingly bearers 
were so enshrined in the hearts and memory of the nation. So 
also with our Ediths, Ermentrudes, Mildreds, and Audreys. 

" In the generation represented by Domesday a man's 
name is an absolutely safe guide to his nationality." 

Every Godwin, Alfric, Edward, Edith, is English. Every 
Robert, Geoffrey, Isabel, Matilda, is Norman. Now and then 
the child of a Norman father was called after his mother's 
family, and the fusion between Norman and Saxon increased. 

So we have Harold, son of Ralph, a Norman. Sweyn, 
son of Robert, a Norman. Edmund, son of Pagan (which 
became Payne in later times). This is an interesting piece of 

" We all know the history of the word Pagan, how that, 
while the gospel had made advance in the cities, but not yet 
penetrated into the country, the dwellers in the pagani or 
country used to be looked upon with something of contempt 
as idolators, so that so far as this word was concerned, country- 
men and false worshipper became synonymous terms. In 
fact, Pagan embraced the two meanings that peasant and 
pagan now convey, though the root of both is the same. 

Gibbon tells us that pagan was first derived from the 
Greek word for a fountain, and that then the rural population 
which frequented it were called Pagans. So rural and pagan 
became synonymous terms. Then the word was used for 
all who were not enlisted in the 'service of the King as a title 
of contempt. But the Christians were the soldiers of Christ, 
and so adversaries, who refused His sacraments or military 
oath of baptism, were called Pagans ; and as Christianity 
filled the cities of the Empire, and the old religion retired 
and languished in obscure villages, so the word Pagan, with 
its new signification, reverted to the primitive origin of 
dwellers in the country. 

The surname or family name was given to distinguish 
possessors of similar personal names. Names could not 


strictly be called surnames till they had ceased to be applic- 
able as descriptive appellations, and were used only in a 
technical and arbitrary sense. 

When the ancestral name Black was borne by a man 
whose hair was white, and that of White by a dark man, then, 
and not before, could this custom of surnames be said to have 
come in. 

Or again, when the name Miller was borne by a man who 
had nothing to do with grinding corn, or Tucker by a man 
who had no connection with the woollen trade, or Knight by a 
man who had nothing to do with military pursuits, then, and 
then only, were such names strictly surnames. 

Hereditary names follow the same rule. When the names 
Bruce and Percy belonged to men who had no land in either 
of those places in Normandy, but were Scotch and north 
country chiefs, they had advanced altogether beyond the 
stage of personal appellatives, and could only be called sur- 
names, or names borne by their sires. 

Such surnames or family names originated in various 

First, they were descriptive of some peculiarity of the 
individual, some personal trait or characteristic, some pecu- 
liarity of form, figure, speech, colour, voice, bearing, or 
temperament. Secondly, they came from the father's name, 
and were called Patronymics. Thirdly, they came from the 
locality, place or situation where a man lived. Fourthly, 
they came from his calling and occupation. Fifthly and lastly, 
they were nicknames, soubriquets, or pet names. To deal 
with the first class. 

Bede tells us that as early as his day the process of thus 
distinguishing one man from another had begun. Two men, 
he tells us, called Hewald were distinguished as Niger Hewald 
and Albus Hewald, or Hewald Black and Hewald White. 
This custom extended far and wide into all the peculiarities of 
personality. "Our Blacks and Whites," says Bardsley, "are 
only the outriders of the great host of personal names 
converted into family names." 


A few examples will suffice. We have our Rounds and 
Thicks, Shorts, Longs, and Tails. Our Whiteheads and Great- 
heads (Grostete was the name of a great bishop), our Youngs 
and our Oldes, our Smarts, and Quicks, and Slows, our Gays, 
Wises and Merrys, Blythes and Joyous (Joyce). We have 
also our Longshanks, Sheepshanks, Cruikshank, Lightfoot, 
Heaviside, Golightly, Harefoot, Roefoot, Barefoot, Plat- (flat-) 
foot, Proudfoot, Fairfaxes, White-Locks, Coxheads, Grey- 
beards and Redbeards, and why not our old friend of the 
nursery, Bluebeard ? 

In Walter Scott's " Quentin Durward " this custom is 
spoken of : "They call my kinsman Ludovie with the scar," 
said Quentin — our family names are so common in a Scottish 
house that where there is no land in the place we always give 
him a to-name. " A nom de guerre, I suppose you mean," 
answered his companion, " and the man you speak of was, I 
think, called ' Le Balafre,' from that scar on his face, a 
proper man and a good soldier." 

" Curva Spina," or hunchback, is another soubriquet 
found in old records. The name of the fifth Earl of Northum- 
berland, which appears on his garter plate in St. George's 
Chapel, was Henry Algernon. It is very likely that this 
second name was adopted by him from the soubriquet or sur- 
name of his ancestor, William de Percy, who was distinguished 
in the Court of William Rufus as William Alsgernons, or 
William with the Moustache. This looks as if it was unusual 
at that time to wear moustaches. The well-known Scotch 
surname Douglas seems to have had the same origin, Douglas 
being the dark grey, man. The hero of 70 rights under Sir 
Robert Bruce was called the Black Douglas, from his swarthy 
complexion, the givers of the name forgetting that- it was a 
reduplication of the epithet. 

Peculiarities of character often afforded a to-name or by- 
name. Le Wolf, with its Norman Le Lupe, Anglice Lovell, was 
common, owing to the ferocity of many of the Norman 

The nickname wolf was given to one Ascelin de Perceval,- 


Lord of Castle Cary or Carith, whose father, Robert Perceval 
de Breherval, came over with William the Conqueror, and 
afterwards returning to Normandy, devoted himself to a 
religious life. This son of his Gouel de Perceval, or the wolf, 
from his ferocious character, held Harptree, Easton and 
Weston-in-Gordano, Stawel and Batcomb, as well as Castle 
Cary. His son succeeded to his father's honours, and dis- 
position, and was called Lupellus — the little wolf. Hence, 
too, his children in this kingdom, dropping the name of Per- 
ceval, assumed that of Lupellus, or in English, Lupel and 
Lovell, and transmitted the same as the name of two great 
families of the ancient peerage of Great Britain. It was a 
descendant of his, Lord Lovell of Titmarsh, 9th Baron, who 
was mentioned in that famous quartette which included 
Catesby, Sir Thomas Ratcliffe, and Richard III., in the verse 
from the pen of the poet Collingbourne, for which he paid with 
his head, and which ran as follows : — 

" The cat, the rat, and Lovell our dog 
Doe rule all England under the Hog ; 
The crook-back's boar the way hath found 
To root out our roses from the ground 
Both flower and bud will he confound 
Till King of Beasts the swine be found. 

And then the dog, the cat, the rat, 
Shall in his trough feed and be fat." 

The hog was King Richard III., the supporters of whose 
coat of arms were two hog-pigs. 

Henry Le Fox, John Lepard, John Le Tod (Fox), 
Walter Le Broc (Badger), John Le Bevere (Beaver), William 
Le Bull, and our friend, John Bull, who was also called John 
Le Beuf, Peter Le Vache (cow), Alice Le Hog, Richard Kidd 
and Nicholas Le Rat, Adam Le Kat and Milo Le Chat are 
all found in the early rolls and records. Sir C. Chadyck 
Healley, in his Somersetshire Pleas, gives us the following 
nicknames: Haste-Vilian, Swetes by the bone, Godesblesinge, 

Many names were derived from birds, as Peacock, Pocock, 


Swan, Hawkes, Cock and Cockerell, Owl, Partridge, Ruddock 
(Robin Redbreast), Stare (Starling), Eagle (our well-known 
name Edgell), Falcon, Parrott, Finch, Goldfinch, and Sparrow ; 
from fishes also, as Salmon, Crabbe (a famous poet), Whiting 
(last Abbot of Glastonbury), Pike, Dolphin, Whale, Chubb, 
and Spratt, Bishop of Rochester ; and even from insects, 
as Margaret Gnatte, Baldwin Bugge, William Flea. Bugge 
and Flea, however, are not such horrid names as we imagine. 
They were no more naturally associated with dirt and un- 
cleanliness than D'aeth was with the last scene of man's 
earthly existence. Flea is a name of old descent, for the stem 
is found in Kemble's list of early settlers. 

It came in with the Saxons, and although it has 
nothing to do with the English " flea," yet it is probably from 
the same root, and expresses the same characteristic of agility 
so marvellously developed in the insect. Even the owner of 
the name " Bugge " need not be ashamed, nor change it into 
Norfolk Howard. It, too, is of old descent. Great and 
honourable men in Saxon days held it. One of this name was 
minister to Edward of Wessex, who signs his name in many a 
charter. Bate Bugge, says Bardsley, is a name found in 
mediaeval times in the Hundred Rolls. Bugge is, at present, 
a name both among Germans and Scandinavians, being, 
among others, that of a distinguished professor at Christiania. 

A propos of these names the writer may mention that he 
once was waited upon at a dinner party in his parish by both 
a Flea and a Bugge. The latter was a respectable carrier, 
often called in to wait at table ; and the former was the butler 
of the house. 

Mr. Ferguson tells us that Bass, whose red pyramid is now 
the hall-stamp of Burton's best production in the shape of ale, 
was, in ancient days, a well-known potter's name. But Bass 
was afterwards the name of a mass priest in Anglo-Saxon 
England, and Bassus of a valiant soldier of King Edwin. 
Basingstoke was, I suppose, the stockade in which the Bas- 
singas or clan of Bass once lived. 

Another origin of surnames was locality. A man was 


called from the place or house or situation in the village or 
town in which he lived. Place names existed, as Camden says, 
before surnames, as our ancestors did not in general give their 
names to the places they lived at, but contrariwise, for places 
bore their names before surnames. 

The simplest local surnames were the names of trees, 
fields, hills, streams, and villages. 

Whatever local landmark, be it a stream, tree, road, 
stile, village green, or stone cross a man lived close to, that 
gave him his name. 

So Henry att Ford became Henry Ford ; Thomas Ate- 
Newthon (at new town) became Thomas Newthon, our 
" Nuth " ; Robert atte the Moor, Robert Moor ; Thomas atte 
the Green, Thomas Green ; William atten Oak, William 
Noakes ; John atten Ash, John Nash ; and Matthew at 
the Stygele, Matthew Styles ; and Mark atten Alder, Mark 
Nalder ; and so on without number. 

In this connection some more palpable derivations may 
be mentioned as, Townsend, the dweller at the end of the 
town ; Briggs, the dweller at the Bridge ; Uphulle, the man 
who lived up the hill ; Updown, the man who occupied a 
house on the downland ; Bitheweye, the man who lived by 
the roadside, fellow to Bythesea, the man who lived by the 
sea ; Bacchus, he who lived at the bake-house. 

The terminal Hus, or house, is found in other names, as 

Stonehouse ; Woodhouse ; Loftus, Lofthouse ; Aldus (Aid, 

i.e., Old house), the name of Venice's most renowned printer. 

Malthus (Malt-house), the celebrated author of the 

" Principles of Population." 

Hobhouse (Hoppus), a name of Somerset County renown. 
The words Hussy, Husband — Husbandman, come, of 
course, from the same word, Hus, a house. 

Akin to this is the word Hof, apparently denoting the 
special house of a great man, lord or prince. From this comes 
Hovel, or the Lytel Hof. 

Other names taken from localities are such as those that 
indicate the place from whence a stranger came. If a man 


came from Wilts., he would be called Wiltshire ; or if from 
Kent, Kent ; from Devonshire, Devenish ; from Cornwall, 
Cornish ; or from Wales, Walsh. 

Newman, of course, was a common name for any stranger 
coming to settle in a place. Waleys, Walisch, or Galeys 
implied the same, for all Welshmen were called " strangers " 
by the conquering Teutonic race. 

Some surnames came also from the names of the foreign 
country from which a man or his ancestors sprung : 

Le Breton 


Le Dane 

. . Dennis. 

Le Frances . 



. . Scot. 

Le Fleming . 

. Fleming. 


. . Langley. 

Le Norman . 


There is an interesting tradition which illustrates the 
ambitious fancy for bearing some distinguished additional 

There was a certain lovely damsel called Mabel, the 
daughter of Robert Fitzhaman, a distinguished man of his 
day, the conqueror of Glamorgan, and had in honour by 
William Rufus, who granted him lands in the forest of Kings- 
wood. She was an heiress to great wealth, and was loved by 
Robert the natural son of Henry I, by a Welsh lady, Nesta 
Prince. The young lady knew her value, and apparently did 
not respond too keenly to her lover's advances. She held out 
long against the match, though the King himself proposed it. 
Her objection was purely technical. Her lover had only one 
name, Robert, while her father could boast of two names, 
Robert and Le Fitz Hame. Moreover, she had a goodly 
inheritance, while her lover had none, being illegitimate. So 
she declined to wed him because he had not two names whereby 
he might be known — in other words, he had no surname. If 
that's all," said the King, " it's easily arranged ; my son shall 
be called Sir Robert Fitz le Roy." " Sire," said she, " that's a 
fair name, and of good repute, as long as he shall live, but 
what shall his son be called, or any other of his descendants ? 
Unless care be taken to that also, they may soon come to have 


no name." The King was moved by her sweet reasonable- 
ness, and perhaps by the great advantages of the match. So, 
to meet her wishes still further, he said : " Damsel, thy Lord 
shall have a name without blame for him and for his heirs. 
For Robert, Earl of Gloucester his name shall be and is. He 
shall be Earl of Gloucester and his heirs I wis." " Sir," said 
the maiden, " then I like this well." 

In 1 1 10 this Robert was Lord of Bristol Castle by his 
marriage and creation, being then about twenty years of age. 

This Robert died in 1141. His son, William of Gloucester, 
founded Keynsham Abbey in memory of his son, who died 
young in 1166 and was buried at the Priory there. It was his 
grandson, Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, who gave the 
Manor of Holcombe, or at least the hamlet of Holcombe, now 
Moor's Farm, and the advowson of the church to this Abbey 
of Keynsham, founded by his great ancestor, William of 

Surnames are also to a large extent Patronymics : that is, 
they are formed by adding either after or before the personal 
name of the father a terminal or suffix answering to the word 
son. Williamson, Richardson, Johnson, Gibson, Gilson, 
Wilkinson, Davidson are formed in this way. The first step 
would be John, his son, William, his son, David, his son, then, 
dropping the " his," simply Johnson, Williamson, Davidson 
(or Dawson). 

So with a suffix. Fitz, earlier Fil. Fitz-Patrick, Fitz- 
Gibbon, Fitz-Gerald, Fitz- William, Fitz-AUan, would be the 
Norman way. Fitz, of course, is son. So in Wales they 
place an " ap " before the personal name, and they get 

Price or Ap-rice. Powell or Ap-Howell. 

Probert or Ap-Robert. Bevan or Ap-Evan. 

Bowen or Ap-Owen. Pugh or Ap-Hugh. 
Parry or Ap- Harry. 

The Welsh, being as proud of their pedigrees as were the 
Jews of old, are wont to be styled by a perfect string of patro- 
nymic names, which custom is illustrated in " Lower's Sur- 


names " by this story : — ''An Englishman, riding one dark 
night among the mountains, heard a cry of distress proceeding 
apparently from a man who had fallen into a ditch near the 
highway, and on listening more intently heard the words, 
1 Help, master, help.' ' Help what ? Who are you ? ' 
enquired the traveller. ' Jenkin Ap-Griffiths Ap-Robin Ap- 
William Ap-Rees Ap-Evan,' was the reply. ' Lazy fellows 
that ye be,' said the Englishman, setting spurs to his horse, 
' to be rotting in that hole, half a dozen of ye. Why in the 
name of common sense don't ye help one another out ? ' " 

The Irish patronymic is, of course, the suffix O', as, 
O'Neal, O'Brien, and the Scotch and Irish Mac, Macbride, r 
Macpherson, Macleod. 

" By Mac and O you'll always know 
True Irishmen, they say ; 
But if they lack both O and Mac, 
No Irishmen are they," 

This patronymic terminal is found in various forms on 
the continent. It is " Witz," as Peter Paulowitz ; Peter, the 
son of Paul in Russia ; " Sky," in Poland, as James Petrow- 
sky ; James, the son of Peter ; and Ez or " es " in Spain, thus 
Fernand Gorcale, the founder of the principality of Castile, 
was called Fernand Gorcalez, and his son in turn revived the 
names of Garcea Fernandez. 

All these are by way of being patronymics, by which the 
father's personal name becomes converted into a family name 
by the addition of a syllable before or after, meaning sonship. 

Another derivation of family names came from occupa- 
tion. As sons left their family hearth and went out into the 
world they would be distinguished from others of the same 
personal name by the name of their trades and callings in life. 

The exchequer lay subsidies give us a great number of 
such names, which indicate various trades and occupations : — 

David Le Vynker . . The Vine-dresser. 

Thomas Le Oatemangere . . Oatmonger. 

Hugh Le Bloddleter . . Doctor, or Barber. 



John Le Small- Fische 
Robert Lengynor 
Galfrido Sutor 
Rickardo Wodeman 
Matthew Faber 
Walter Hosebond 
Galfrido Le Millewar 
Wellilmo Le Tonken 
Rickardo Molindinar 
Adam Le Reve 
Roberto Le Parcar 
And so on. 

The Fishhawker. 
Woad man. 

Sometimes terms of endearment are added to personal 
names and converted into surnames, as cock,' Wilcox, Simcox, 
Hancock (John Cock). 

This is from our nursery, cock robin, cock horse. 
Also as kin, 





Many names came from farming and agricultural opera- 
The aishman, ashman, ashburner, produced potash from fuel 

ashes, used as a detergent for washing linen before soap. 
The Barker was the man who supplied the tanner with bark. 
The Bercher or Berger was the shepherd. 
The Hind was the swineherd, a slave before Norman days. 
The Bull man, the bull herdman. 
The chalker or Marler, one who dug chalk or marl (a form of 

The dayman or Gayer, pursued much the same calling. 
The Dyker or Ditcher was the man who kept the ditches clean. 
The Dayman or Daye, was the dairyman. 
The Gatehead was the goatherd. 
The Hayward or Hayman guarded the cattle on the greens 

and leazes and meadows, and kept them from trespassing 

before hedges existed — modern waywarden. 


Nuttard, the Neatherd. 

Thacker, the thatcher. 

Yealman, man in charge of the heifers. 

Boucher, butcher. 

La Bouchere is the female butcher. 

The woollen trade, as Mr. Bardsley, from whom I am 
quoting, informs us, has supplied us with a whole series of 
names, many of which are as familiar as household words. 
There is Coombs, the Comber of the raw and tangled material 
just fresh from the sheep's back, and his fellows the Carder 
and Kempster, the latter of whom gives us the " unkempt 
locks " of the poet. 

The familiar name, too, of Webb preserves the same tale 
of the cloth-making, in which his fingers so nimbly plied and 
deftly moved the " slay," the moveable part of the loom, along 
the threads. Piers Plowman, in his vision, says, " My wife 
was a Webbe, and woolen cloth made." 

Webber is only the longer variant, and Webster the ori- 
ginal feminine form. Wadman, again, was the man who sold 
the woad if he did not do more, and dyed the cloth with it him- 
self. Then came the Tucker and his services to the cloth, 
which were to thicken it. And the Fuller, another name for 
the same, and the Walker, who trod out the cloth with his 
feet. This treading the cloth was superseded by the work 
done in the fulling mill. In Wicklyfe's version of the story of 
Christ's transfiguration, he speaks of his clothes shining so as 
no fuller or walkere of cloth may make white upon earth. 

Tookar, Toker, and Towker are used in our early registers 
and deeds, instead of Tucker. Spinster, of course, is almost 
a legal term, and reminds us of the day when the distaff and 
the spindle were the be all and end all of woman's life ; and 
Chaucer could write disparagingly : " Deceite weping — 
Spinning. God hath given to women kindly while that they 
may be liven." The distinguishing terms for male and 
female in very early days were " the spear and the spindle." 

Blacker seems a strange name for a man who dyed linen 
white, until we know that it was a corruption of the word 



bleacher. The frequency of the name Barker shows us how 
important was the preparation of Bark in the tanner's yard. 
This also applies to the name Tanner : leather from tanned 
hides being the most important item of early manufacture 
after wool. Simon the Tanner would no doubt be called 
Simon Tanner, as Wat the Tyler was called Wat Tyler, and 
John le Tayllure, John Taylor. The Haberdasher was the 
Whiteley or Gamage of the present day. He offered for pur- 
chase a great and varied assortment of goods, spurs and 
shirts, chains and night caps, spectacles and woollen threads, 
beads and pen-cases, combs and ink-horses, parchments and 
whip-cords, gaming tables and coffins. There was a haber- 
dasher of hats at Midsomer Norton in the 18th century. 

We are quite sorry to find that the original derivation for 
this word, Haberdasher, from " Haben sie dass mein Herr," 
so natural a pedlar's cry, is not now considered correct, but 
that the word is derived from " Hapertas," a kind of cloth 
sold in former days. 

Further we proceed to exemplify these principles from 
names on our local registers. First, take the surnames which 
came from personal or christian names, converted into here- 
ditary ones, past and present. 







John's son, who managed the silk house in 

Peter-Kins, a well-known family among us. 

A well-known name ; and Morgan's alias 
Mongan is Celtic for Seaborn. 

Hitchcock, from Hitchens, a variant of Dick. 

Jan Cock or John Cook. 

Giles' son. St. Giles or iEgidius was a Norman- 
French Saint, and the patron of cripples. 


Robin, often written Robence. 

Phipps — Phippen, Philips from Philip. 

Margotson ; Margery's son ; " William Maggs, 
Bath," 1494. Roger Maggs payed a yearly 
licence at Kilmersdon in 1571 to set up his 


Norman Pottery, Rectory Field. Figures 2. Fragments of Roman Mortari^e. 

See pages 16 and 17. 


Pottery shewing work of the Lathe. 

See page 17. 


hovel or post-house on the Lord's soil. 

Possibly, however, Maggs may come from 

Magot-pie, Magpie. Magot being a familiar 

name for a pie, as Robin for a redbreast ; 

Tom for a titmouse; Jack Daw for a rook. 
Purnell . . Petronilla, female of Peter. 
Bissex . . Byssicks, Little Byss. Probably derived from 

the River Biss in Wiltshire. 
Dore . . Dawe, David. 

Watts . . Walter, Walters. 

Budd . . Baldwin, also written Bubbe, older Budda-" 

Auderd Budde held half a virgate of land at 

Badeberi, under the Abbot of Glastonbury. 

Osmundas Budda was one of the jurors of 

Blakeford under the same. 
Adkins . . Atkins, Adam. 

Names of occupations : — 
Brazier, brewer, brewster, braciator — our Bracy. 
Botoner, the Button-maker — our Button. 

Button is a name well-known in Coleford. There were 
many more of the name in former days. Bardsley derives it 
from the word Botoner, a Button-maker, and says that Henry- 
le-Botoners and Richard-le-Botoners may be found in most of 
our early records. Mr. Baring Gould, in his " Family Names 
and their Story," gives us the same derivation. Lower, in 
his English surnames, tells us of a quaint pun upon the name 
made by a sexton in his bill for making Mr. Button's grave : 
" To making a button-hole, 4s. 6d." He says there is another 
edition of the same pun given in the form of a conundrum : 
" Which is the deepest, the longest, the broadest, the smallest 
grave in Esher churchyard ? " Ans. : " That in which Miles 
Button is buried, for it contains Miles below the sod, Miles in 
length, Miles in breadth, and yet it is only a Button-hole." I 
had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a fine specimen 
of the Button family, Mr. James Button, who is 92 years of 
age, and has lately taken to himself a third wife. He is 



wonderfully hearty and hale. He began his work in life as a 
bird scarer at 2d. a day, and managed to thrive upon it, though 
he himself relates that in his childhood the scarcity of provision 
was such, that though there was only one knife in the home 
(and that without a handle), it was more than enough for the 
use of the family. He has been a saving man all his life, and 
has abstained both from intoxicating liquors and tobacco. 
When offered the old age pension he declined it on the score 
that he had always supported himself and didn't wish any- 
one else to support him. 

William Wyrcestre, alias Botone, a native of Bristol, was 
clerk to Sir John Fastolf in 1450, and wrote many of the 
Paston Letters. 

The Buttons, however, may have had more aristocratic 
ancestors. Sir John Button was Lord of the Manor at East 
Hanham in Kingswood Forest about 1400, and his descendants 
were well known for many ages in that district, and migrated 
into other parts of the country. 

Thomas Button, or de Button, was chosen Dean of Wells, 
1284, and was promoted to the See of Exeter, 1292. Mr. 
Irvine considers that the figure on the right side of the north 
porch of the Cathedral Church of Wells represents him as 
Bishop. His Uncle William Button was Bishop of Bath and 
Wells, 1248-1264, and so was his brother, another William 
Button, the Saint, 1267-1275. 

While speaking of Coleford I may mention Cullen, another 
name well known in that village. It was probably first borne 
by a man who came from Cologne on the Rhine. 

Baring Gould states that this is the origin of the name, 
in which he obtains the support of Bardsley, who gives us in 
his index of instances a John de Coloigne, a William de 
Culinge, and an Alan Culling from the hundred rolls and the 
History of Norfolk. 

Cologne was regularly called Cullen in the 16th century 
in England. 

Badman . . Beadman, Beadle, who asked the prayers of 
the people for ancient benefactors. So 



John Bunyan's Mr. Badman has nothing in 
common with our friend of the same name 
in this parish. 
The Bedeman or Beddman's duty also was to ring the 
Curfew Bell. 

Curfew is a corruption of Couvre-feu, to cover or put out 
all lights and fires, and was rung at 8 p.m. by the order of 
William the Conqueror. The Sexton probably had to toll 
the passing bell. This bell was so called as warning the 
parish to pray for the departing soul and the curate to repair 
to the house and administer divine consolation. It was not 
rung after the death as now-a-days. It was tolled again, as 
now, after the funeral, to scare away all evil spirits. 






Surgeon, attending to lych or body. (This is 
the origin of lych in " lychgate.") 

Coal haulier, a name of comparatively modern 
times, unknown in mediaeval days. There 
were ten such men in this district in the 
18th century, probably many more now, 
but the name has outlived the special 
application. There was a Hercules Horler 
at Stratton in 1628, who seems to have 
'derived his Christian name from his strength 
of character no less than of body. A John 
Horler, together with a Johannes Edgell and 
a Josius Mattocke, were lead miners at 
Pnddy in the 16th century. 

Plumer, the preparer of feathers or plumes^ 
but also later the solderer with lead, which 
is plumbus in Latin. 

Goldings, Gilder or Goldwin, Godwyn. The 
family of Golds lived at Bath in 1549. 

Tumour, Turnur. This man was in much 
request in early days, as nearly all utensils 
as muggs, cups, jars, were turned from 
wood, hence the great prevalence of the 

8 4 



Fuselier, the maker of tools. Fuseli was a great 
artist of the last century. Alexander Fussell 
was witness in 1571 to an indenture executed 
at Kilmersdon. The Fussels were agricul- 
tural implement and tool makers. Mells 
and neighbourhood was famous for this 
industry in former days. We had a Thomas 
Furcerel, later Forcel, probably a maker of 
pitchforks (furca) at Holcombe in 1327 and 
1333, paying subsidies to the Exchequer, or 
else one of a large class who lived by the use 
of the pitchfork and flail, or, in Latin, sub 
furca et flagello. 

Moore. Atte Moor. 

Ford. Atten Ford. 

Nash. Atten Ash. 

A common name here, naturally, 
from the nature of our land. 
I find it when no longer a 
descriptive name in the City 
of Bath, together with an Att- 
wood and Atte Wall and 
Master Walle. 

This might be either at the 
river's passage or at the road, 
ford meaning either. 

John Nash, of Chilcompton, is 
credited in the St. Michael's 
Churchwardens' accounts, at 
Bath, for part of his tyne and 
seale (toll lease), X£, Vis. 
VHId. in 1575. The family 
was then well to do, and later 
on was distinguished through 
the grand " master of the 
ceremonies," the famous Beau 
Nash who ruled the roost and 
regulated the fashions at the 
Pump Room, Bath, and the 
Pantiles of Tunbridge Wells. 



Lansdown . 












Peter at end, so Townsend. 

. A name which figures in the early register of 

St. Michael's, Bath. 
. " By-the-west-as-the-turn " (exchequer lay 

, . At Willow-way. 
, . Atte Merefield. 

I Atte Averfield. 
J Oatfield. 

Atte White Acre, where white lias was found. 

. . Atte Up the Down. 

. . Upon the Hill. 

. . The man who lived at the Bridge. 

The present name, Padfield, is a modern cor- 
ruption. It occurs in the registers of this 
district, as first, Patwell, then Pedwell, 
Pedell, and then Paddle, afterwards Pad- 
field. As such, it is included in the names of 
the chief people of Holcombe in 1733, who 
appealed against the rector's method of 
assessing tithes of this Parish. 
In the Exchequer lay subsidies of 1327, 
Waltero de Padwell pays XHIId and Wil- 
lelmo de Padwell VHId. 

In the inquisition of the Manors of Glastonbury Abbey, 
under the heading of the Manor of Ashcot, we find five of this 
name among jurymen of the Manor. 

Robertus de Pedewelle. Gervasius de Pedewelle. 

Sternoldus de Pedewelle. Ricardus de Pedewelle. 

Radulphus de Pedewelle. 

Three of them farmed about 20 acres each, under various 
conditions of service ; the other two were cottagers (cotselle = 
cottage) who had only five acres, but upon easier terms of 



service, being exempt, among other things, from ploughing. 

This large family formed the chief part of the inhabitants of 

Pedewelle or Padewell, and probably migrated further up the 

country into our colliery district after the dissolution of the 


Amongst nicknames and soubriquets, past and present, 

we have : — 

Ruddock . . Robin Redbreast. Solomon Ruddock lived at 

Bull . . Le Bauf, Le Bule. 

Parfitt . . Parfit, Perfect. 

" He was a very parfitt gentle knight." 

We should call him a regular " Nonpareil." 
A Jeames Perfecte, in 1597, left 6/8 to the 
repairs of the church, and 3/4 to the poor of 
Holcombe. He gives all his household 
stuff in his house at Midlesoy to his wife, 
Susannah. He bequeathes debts owing to 
him from 35 persons in Somerset and other 
counties to his brother. Query, was he a 
money lender ? He seems to have had 
amongst his clients three chapmen and a 
glovier and cossier of Somerton. He is 
called a husbandman in his will. We have 
also the will of his brother, Richard Parfitt, 
of Stratton-upon-the-Vos, Yeoman, 1584. 
He bequeaths £12 to the Cathedral Church 
of Wells ; £182 10s. in various sums to his 
daughters and their children ; also land to 
Richard Charnbury and Robert Presser ; 
amongst his debtors are found Polidorus 
Hellacre, of Wells, William Orange, of 
Mells, gentleman, and the parson of his 
parish, John Walton. 

Curtis . . Curteys, courteous. " A regular courtier," no 



Savage . . Salvage. " A stark man and very savage " 
(Saxon chronicle). 

Rich . . The name Rich is a peculiar nickname or 

soubriquet. It seems to have been very 
common in Stoke St. Michael, as well as in 
Holcombe. It dates from early days. A 
Gunilda Richeman payd a subsidy in 1333 
at Holcombe. Walter Rich lived at Bath 
in 1527. A Rich was proprietor of Covent 
Garden Theatre, and in connection with 
him the conundrum was asked : " What 
made Gay Rich and Rich Gay ? " Answer : 
"The Beggar's Opera," the poet Gay's 
best work, which filled the house for one 
hundred nights, and also filled Rich's 
pocket. There was a Swannus Le Riche 
and a Gervaise Le Riche in the hundred 
rolls. A Rich was Countess of Warwick. 
Richer L'Aigle was one of William the Con- 
queror's Captains, and was killed in the 
Siege of Saint Susanne. 

A man of fair means seems to have been a Rara Avis in 
those daysj but it seems a vulgar name to give a man. How- 
ever, it does not stand alone, as we have also our Poers, or 
Powers, Poveres, and our Plentyes. John Plentye appears 
in a subsequent subsidy roll for Holcombe. 

Russell .. Rosel, the Red Haired. A Russell of Hol- 
combe held property here in Elizabeth's 
reign, and his granddaughter, Elizabeth 
Tynslowe, of Whatley, sells land to John 
James, of Kilmersdon, husbandman, in the 
22d of Queen Elizabeth, as by deed in the 
author's possession. The same name is 
found in the Exchequer Lay Subsidies 
Rolls in 1327 as paying Vlld on his personal 


Joyce . . Joyeuse, Merry. 

Purl . . Pearl or Marguerite. These two names are 


Maynard . . John James's alias, which meant the hard- 
handed man ; we will hope not the close- 
fisted. The German is Meginhard (Hard- 

Chivers . . Was originally a nickname. It is a corruption 
of the Norman-French Chievre=a goat. 
Either from the agility of its possessor, or 
possibly from his hirsuteness as a Roman 
Emperor, Caligula was so called. The first 
man of the name was called Capra, the Latin 
for goat. We shall come across his genea- 
logy when we consider the various race 

The present name " Chivers " has gone through some 
kaleidoscopic variations, being spelt Chievers, Chiffers, Chivers. 
A Walter Chivers is found in the Manor Rolls of Caleston, held 
by George Cantelupe in the County of Wilts. He held one 
virgate of land, or 30 acres, paying the yearly rent of 7/6, and 
performing various bounden services upon the lord's estate. 
Chivers was a name well known amongst the miners of the 
Forest of Dean in the 17th Century. Hence they seem to 
have migrated here in the 18th Century. I have some parch- 
ments of 1734, in which the name appears as taking long 
leases on lives upon the common of Holcombe for the purpose 
of mining. 

Treasure . . This name was probably given the first owner 
as a nickname or soubriquet, and became a 
family name for many generations after all 
idea of its being descriptive of anything 
peculiar was lost. The original Treasure, 
no doubt, stumbled upon a hidden store of 
money or other valuables, and became a 
rich and noted man. The name occurs in the 


Assize Rolls as that of a man at Cheleworth 
or Chelwood, 8 miles from Holcombe, in the 
14th Century. Robert Tresor was said to be 
in mercy for permitting a thief to escape 
who was in his mainpast. Again, Nicholas 
Le Tresor of North Petherton, was out- 
lawed for the burning of the house of Roger 
Baril. He had nothing to lose except life 
and liberty, as he possessed no personal 
Treasure hunting was a common practice in former days, 
and even licensed by law. Cornwall and Devon were 
favourite hunting grounds, as many ancient barrows existed, 
and many ships, especially at the time of the Spanish Armada, 
were wrecked with all their treasure on the shores of the 
former county. It was a common practice also, in the 
troublous times of our frequent civil wars, to hide valuables 
in secret places till quiet days should come. The possessors 
died, and the treasure remained hidden, though a tradition of 
its burial may have survived. 

We learn, also, that persons in Roman days, not being 
able to carry their treasure with them when they left the 
country, deposited the same in some well-marked place, hoping 
to return at some future day to recover it. In the Saxon 
chronicle is a passage where the departure of the Roman 
Legion from Britain is commemorated in these words : — 
" This year the Romans departed from Britain, and they 
buried their money hoard." 

This tempted many to forsake their proper work, and go 
about as treasure seekers ; but the wealth acquired by some 
such lucky finders of treasure stores would soon be spent, and 
the descendants of the first of the name would have to seek a 
more certain and reliable means of livelihood. 

What more natural than to migrate to the coal districts 
of Somerset, and try their luck here in a more methodical and 
regular manner ? 

It was a beautiful superstition which maintained that, 


wherever the feet of the rainbow rested, there a hidden 
treasure would be discovered. 

Those who set out in quest of this hidden treasure 
wandered far, and found only fairy gold, a glow of beauty 
that vanished ever and anon the nearer they approached it. 
But those who seek this treasure, not by idle, superstitious 
wandering, but by steady, trustful industry, may find it even 
where the many-coloured feet of the rainbow have never trod, 
in the very bowels of the earth, where a foreseeing providence 
has laid it by till it was needed, to crown man's skill. 

There are many other names in our list which fail to fall 
readily under the headings already noted, but they may be 
otherwise classified. First, there are names of the various 
races which have peopled our island. The most important 
races who have successively occupied this island have been 
Celts, Saxons, Normans. The Romans may be neglected, 
since during the 400 years of their occupation they probably 
intermarried but little with the natives whom they con- 

Now to proceed to examples. First, what Celtic names 
have we ? 

Morgan . . Morganawg, whose alias was Willcox in 1734, 
and whose ancestor probably lived at Moor's 
Farm, and was captain of the Militia raised 
to resist the Spanish Armada. 
Craddock . . Carndawg, or the brawny arm, afterwards 
Caradoc, and " Caractacus," the unfor- 
tunate Celtic King, who fought so bravely 
against the Romans, and was betrayed 
and taken prisoner to Rome, to grace 
the conqueror's triumph, where his forti- 
tude and dignity won him his release and 
Leir . . Sole survivor of the once famous Llyrs, 

meaning strand or shore. Immortalised as 
King Lear by Shakespeare. This was the 
name as I have mentioned elsewhere of an 


Ocean God like Nodens, who was worshipped 
both in Ireland and Britain. 
In the Welsh histories he appears as Lear. Leir is 
another form of the same name. It is held by one of the 
oldest families in Somerset, whose representative, General 
Leir Carleton, is owner of the Manor of Ditcheat, where his 
ancestors have long resided, as Rectors and Squires of the 

The King Lear of Shakespeare's tragedy is traditionally 
supposed to have built the town of Leicester, about the time 
when Amos was a prophet in Israel, and his daughter, Cordelia, 
is represented as burying him in a vault under the river Sore, 
which had been originally built as a Temple of Janus. Geoffrey 
of Monmouth is the authority for this, as of so many other 
early English stories, which were adopted by Holinshed, and 
worked into his plays by Shakespeare. Cymbeline was 
another of these legendary characters, though he had some 
semblance of historical existence as Cumbellinos, one of the 
Kings of Britain. 

Mattick . . Madoc, Madox. This name suggests a tale. 
" Do you know mathematics," said a 
pedagogue to a schoolboy. " No, I don't 
know Mathee (Matthew) Matticks, but I 
knows Thomas Matticks." 

Cornish . . Cornick. The man from Cornwall. 

James . . Lower tells us that a family of this name held 

property in Pembrokeshire for 13 genera- 
tions. Joseph James was a shopkeeper here 
in 1827. Thomas Day-James owned Back- 
side and Cinderhayes, etc. The name Day 
probably indicated the fact that he was a 
dairyman, Day=Dairyman. 
Saxon names, of course, abound. 
All such names as have to do with early country life and 

occupation are essentially Saxon. 

The Normans were a nation of barons, knights, and 


squires versed in military exercises, delighting in the tourna- 
ments ; and of artizans employed in the various guilds of 
workmen in the towns ; while the Saxons were better versed 
in agricultural pursuits, and in the arts of rural and domestic 
life. They were our tylers, thatchers, dykers, ploughmen, 
millers, ashmen, hauliers, helliers, haywards, and quarries. 
Among these, therefore, one must look for our Saxon names. 
Besides, thererwill be others whose names were once Christian 
names or merely nicknames. 

So we find such Saxon names as : — 
Webb Steed Budd Gaite Hawkins Heal 
Tucker Tooker Blacker Ashman Millard Frye 

Gane. This was an Anglo-Saxon name. It was originally 
Geyn. Geynes Thorn was a place name. 

We find the name in the exchequer lay subsidies at 
Castle Cary in 1327. A Robert Gane paid a subsidy there of 
VId. and a Johanne Gain, at Shepton Mallet, also paid VId. 
the same date. 

Gane was the name of the tenant of Moor's Farm early in 
the 18th Century, an overseer of Holcombe. His wife was 
daughter of Mr. William Rabbits, and had £1000 as her 
inheritance. She lived at and farmed the same property for 
some years. She was overseer in 1816. The last of the family 
settled at the Woodlands. The name appears at Corsely as 
that of an overseer of the poor, who apparently was respon- 
sible for the following despotic order : " Resolved whoso 
ever keeps a dog after this time shall have no relief of the 
parish whatever, nor be permitted to live in any house belonging 
to the parish." 

Some Danish names were current here. 

Oram is a common name in the district even now. Thomas 
Oram rented the Canal ground at Edford. Eli Oram and 
Joseph Perkins rented Littlefield farm a century ago. The 
word is spelt in various ways. Orem, Oreme, Orome, Worm, 
and Orme. Orme is the regular form of the word, which is 
found in Orms Head, Ormskirk, Ormsby, all Scandinavian 


settlements in Britain. The spelling, " Worm," in the 
registers of Stratton on the Fosse was not so far wrong as the 
curate supposed who corrected it, since the worm or serpent 
was the crest of Scandinavian sea kings in early days. 

Denning . . This may be a Danish name, as Le Deneys or 
Le Daneys is common, also Dennis. 

The Danes certainly were in this district as we well know, 
and Dane Acre and Wormhill are found in Radstock as place 

Norman names, naturally, are found among us, though 
in much fewer instances than Saxon. 

The name " Moon " heads the list. This was originally 
De Mohun, a Norman baron who came over with the Con- 
queror, and was granted more Manors than almost any other 
baron. Amongst his other fiefs he held the important one of 
Dunster, afterwards held by the Luttrells. 

Edward the Second, Duke of York, killed at Agincourt, 
married " Philippa de Mohun," second daughter of Lady Joan 
de Mohun, of Dunster Castle, about whom there is the well- 
known story that she obtained from her husband, John de 
Mohun, so much land for the inhabitants of Dunster adjoining 
the town as she could walk round barefoot in a single day, 
whereupon to depasture their cattle freely and in common. 

Beachem . . Beauchamp, Bello Campo. English Fairfield. 
This is an instance like that of Moon where 
only the sound remains of all that once was 
a name to conjure by. " Alas ! poor 

Hamblyn . . Hamlyn, Hamlen. A relic of such folk as 
Hamelun de Trap and Osbert Hamelin. 

Keevill . . This may be also an old Norman name. There 
is a village of the name of Keevil in Wilts: 
Willelmo de Kiwelle paid I2d. as a subsidy 
in 1327 at Lemington ; but the name Keevil 
may, perhaps, have had an earlier origin. 
It may have come from the Celtic name for 


a horse of a rather sorry kind, which was 
variously spelt as Ceffyl, Cavil, Kevil, and 
Keffyl. This word was used as a term of 
contempt by the Saxons for their Celtic 
neighbours. Caple, Capul, Caball were 
variants of the same word in later times. 
This may have been the root of the French 
word for horse, " Cheval," and the Latin 
Candy . . This name, says Mr. Baring Gould in his 

interesting book on family names, came 
from Candia (Crete), but he does not sub- 
stantiate his surmise. It seems more 
probable that they came at some time from 
Flanders in one or other of those migrations 
of Flemings from the days of Henry I, when 
they were brought over into Wales down to 
the time of the days of the Duke of Alva in 
1665, when they came to Norfolk and other 
parts of England to instruct our people in 
the cloth manufacture. Gandy is a variant 
of the name, and probably comes from 
Gand, the Flemish for Ghent. However, if 
they came originally from Ghent, they have 
become naturalised by many centuries of 
settlement, and have become successful 
dairy farmers for several generations. 
Maurice de Gant or Ghent was a very early 
colonist at Huntspill. There is a place 
called " Gant's Farm " still, close by Stock- 
land Gaunts. Ferguson says that Candy 
is another form of Gandy, that is, a dweller 
at Gand or Ghent. 
The name Chivers, previously mentioned, is undoubtedly 
Norman. The first of the name, who was called Capra, or goat, 
in Latin, and then Chievre in French, was the brother of the 
famous Ralph de Pomerai, who came over with the Conqueror, 


and was granted many fair acres in " Smiling Devon." He 
left his golden orchards in Normandy, from which he got his 
name of Pomerai, to cultivate his apples in the orchards of 
Devon, and build that splendid castle on the rock near Totnes. 

We find a John Caprarius, otherwise Chevere. was Prior 
of Montacute in 1216. 

John Chevre was elected Abbot of St. Mary de Prato in 

Pardon was granted for Nicholas Chevere, by reason of 
his service in Scotland against William Wallace, for a homicide 
committed in Ireland in 1299. This pardon was granted by 
Edward I. 

John de Chiverston, in 1327, paid his subsidy of a 15th at 
Midsomer Norton of 4od., a sum a good deal above the average, 
showing him to have been a magnate. 

John Chevre was outlawed at Wykeshowe, in Suffolk, in 
1310, but freely pardoned by the King. Evidently he was a 

The name appears frequently in this district in the 16th 
and 17th Centuries. Henry Chivers paid money by way of 
loan to Queen Elizabeth in 1571. Twice we find that the 
name bore an alias, Chivers alias Dangerfield. May this not 
indicate the ancient dwelling-place of the family, Dangerfield 
coming from Dangerville, d' Angers Ville, even as Umfraville 
comes from Amfraville, and Turberville from D'Urber ville, as 
Mr. Hardy tells us in " Tess of the D'Urbervilles." 

It is curious to trace the genealogy of the family so well- 
known amongst our country folk and mining officials, to their 
ancestral home in Normandy. 

Emery is another Norman name. Amerie, Almerie, 
Emeric, seems to have been its original spelling in England, 
and thus, at least, it is more likely to remind us that it is the 
same name as the Italian form, " Amerigo." To " Amerigo " 
Vespusie we owe that great, vast expanse of the New World 
which is so closely connected with English industry and 
English interests. 

There are several names of note in our early records which 


riave been connected with this parish as land owners or lords 
of the Manor. One is Fortesque. The earliest of the race was 
the famous Sir John Fortesque, Lord Chancellor to Henry VI. 

in 1395- 

He wrote a famous book, " Fortesque de Laudibus 
Angliae," in the form of a dialogue between the tutor and his 
princely pupil, Edward V. 

This Sir John Fortesque married Isabella, heiress of John 
Jamys, of Norton St. Philip. From him was sprung in later 
years a certain Hugh Fortesque. His children were John, 
Robert and Arthur. Robert, the heir, married Elizabeth, 
daughter of John Horner. He was born 1617, and died 1677. 
He bought of his father-in-law, John Horner, the property in 
Holcombe possessed by the said John Horner. 

Having no children, he left this property to his brother 
Arthur, of Penwarn in Cornwall, who died in 1693. 

He was succeeded by his son, Hugh Fortesque, of Filleigh, 
Devon, who sat in Parliament all through the reign of William 

He died in 1719, and was succeeded by his son, Hugh, 
made first, Baron Clinton, then Baron Fortesque, then Earl 
Clinton by George II. 

This nobleman changed the name of the family seat from 
Filleigh to Castle Hill. He was born 1695, and died 1751. 

He obtained the ancient Barony of Clinton by its being 
called out of abeyance by a writ of summons to him as 14th 
Baron in right of his mother, Bridget Boscawen, only child of 
Lady Margery Clinton, youngest daughter of Theophilus, 
twelfth Baron Clinton and fourth Earl of Lincoln. He was a 
Lord of the Bedchamber to George I, a K.C.B., and Lord- 
Lieut, of Devon. 

He sold his property at Croscombe and Holcombe, having 
no children to succeed to the title. The Holcombe property, 
which was all concentrated in his hands, was bought in 1734, 
by W. H. Salmon, originally of Stratton and Chilcompton. 

The name of Fortesque is said to have been bestowed on 
Sir Richard Le Fort, one of William the Conqueror's followers 


Nails, etc. Rectory Field Midden. 
S;e page 14. 


The Author and his Excavations of Celtic Housi 

See page 19. 


Foundations of Celtic House in Rectory Field. 

See page 19 


to England. In the battle of Hastings he protected his chief 
from the arrows of the English archery by extending his shield 
before him, when the Conqueror said, " Forte Scutum Salus 
Ducum," i.e., " A strong shield is the safety of commanders " ; 
so the family no longer called themselves Le Fort but 

Mr. Baring Gould says this is a mere fable, as it is not 
recorded in any account of the battle ; also he says there were 
two families in Normandy, one Le Fort, the other Fortesque, 
before the Conquest. 

The Salmon family were located at Holcombe from 1630 
to 1881. Members of the family had lived at Stratton in still 
earlier days. Holcombe old church has several tablets to the 
memory of Salmons of Holcombe. Their pedigree is as 
follows : — John Salmon, born 1630, died 1711. John Salmon, 
of Oriel College, Oxford, his son, who died 1714, leaving a son, 
William Henry Salmon, called Dr. Salmon. He married 
Mary Tooker, of Norton Hall, and bought the Manor of Hol- 
combe in 1734. He had three children: John, Captain of 
Somerset Militia, died 1790 ; James, of Writhlington, buried 
1772, who married Bridget Eyre, of NewSarum; Mary, married 
Philip Dart, Rector of Stratton. James had a son, James 
Eyre Salmon, who married a daughter of Frances Whalley, 
and had a daughter, Bridget Bingley Salmon. This James 
Eyre Salmon died in 1881, and his daughter fourteen years 
later. He left the Manor to the writer and his heirs. 

There was a Richard Salmon who was enrolled as a pike- 
man, a Robert Salmon as an archer, and Edward Salmon 
and a John Salmon as Bilmen in the Militia raised to repel the 
Spanish Armada. 

The Salmons claim to have been descended from " Sancto 
Alamando," who came over with the Conqueror. 

There is an Almeric St. Amando mentioned in the in- 
quisitiones post mortem, and a John de St. Amand in the writs 
of Parliament. Perhaps, however, Salmon is a soubriquet of 
ancient times, when fishes were so much more an article of 
food than at the present day, and were held in sufficient 



repute to be used as surnames. So we have Dolphins and 
Chubbes, and Whales and Coddes, and Pikes and Mackerels, 
as well as Salmon among our list. 

" Salmon," however, may have had still another deriva- 
tion. The ancestor of the family may have been one of those 
old middlemen called Salman, who in Frankish times and 
under the Salic law were indispensable to the transmission of 
all property from man to man. 

They received from the grantor, and handed on to the 
grantee, the festuca or rod which was the consecrated symbol 
of rightful ownership, and so they were the prototypes of the 
old English stewards and bailiffs who in like manner received 
from one tenant and handed on to his successor the Virga or 
rod in token of the same right of possession. 

This characteristic handing on of the rod preserved the 
features of the older ceremony. The tenant, thus enfeoffed 
of his holding on the condition of base tenure, was technically 
termed tenant by the rod, or, in Norman-French, par la verge. 

The Salmons always came to the fore when their services 
were wanted for the defence of their country. Several 
members of the family at Stratton figure upon the muster 
rolls of the militia raised to repel the Spanish Armada. The 
muster roll of the tithing of Holcombe at that date is as 
follows : — 

Philippe Strong . . Pikeman. Thos. Rache (Rich ?). . Archer. 
Thomas Parfitt . . Archer. John Mannynge Billman. 

Their armour was one tithing corselet, furnished, one pair of 
Almagne rivets, furnished. A bow and sheaf of arrows. 

James Eyre Salmon served as Captain of the Ston Easton 
troop of the North Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry. 

The North Somerset Yeomanry Cavalry were first started 
under the title of the Frome Selwood Volunteers in 1797. They 
were then composed only of foot soldiers. They were estab- 
lished to defend their country and help the civil power to 
quell riots and insurrections. (Plate X.) 

James Anthony Wickham, of Northhill, Frome, was their 


first Captain, and Thomas Horner their first Colonel Com- 
mandant. Thomas Swimmer Champneys, of Orchardleigh, was 
a great supporter of the Corps. Soon their numbers totalled 
ioo infantry and 60 horse ; and in 1803 their title was changed 
to the Frome and East Mendip Regiment of Volunteer Cavalry. 

In 1808 the Regiment was composed of 2 Troops at 
Frome ; 2 Troops at Mells ; 1 Troop at Shepton ; 1 Troop at 

In 1814 they were ordered to be called the North Somerset 
Yeomanry Cavalry ; and several fresh Troops, as the Stone 
Easton', Keynsham, and Bath, joined them. 

The Regiment was mustered almost daily in the spring of 
1815, after the escape of Napoleon from Elba. 

In June of that year Major Wickham was given his Com- 
mission as Lt. -Colonel of the Regiment. He was severely 
wounded in a riot at Frome in 1816, and retired in 1830, when 
his long services were acknowledged by the handsome pre- 
sentation of a gold snuff-box and address. Lord E. Thynne 
succeeded him in the Lt. -Colonelcy. In 1831 the Regiment 
was hurriedly ordered to Bristol to quell the infamous riot 
which took place there and did so much damage. Captain 
Whalley Wickham, son of James Anthony Wickham, com- 
manded the Frome troop, as at a much later date he com- 
manded the volunteers, and retired with the rank of Major late 
in life. In 1839 Col. Horner retired from the command, after 
33 years' service, and was succeeded by his son, who unhappily 
died in 1843. 

In later years several well-known men served in the 
regiment : Sir William Miles, Lord Cork, Lord Temple, the 
late Lord Hylton, and Captain Macadam. Of the original 
force before the changes made by the present War Minister, 
there are still surviving, amongst others, the following 
members, Lord Hylton, Major Arthur Green, Major Hippisley, 
Colonel Skrine, Captain C. Tudway, C. Harding, Messrs. E. C. 
Bissex, Jacob Mattick, John Harding, and A. T. Candy, a well- 
known marksman in the regiment, and still a steady shot at 
64 years of age. 


The regiment, as the author of its history written in 1850 
says, well earned its title to the motto of the border Scots, 
" Ready, aye Ready," by the promptitude with which it 
responded to every call of duty. 

The class of men who composed the troopers of the force — 
the Yeomen of England — have been from earliest days the 
backbone of the country. They were originally small free- 
holders, of whom, at the end of the 17th Century, there were 
more than 180,000 still existing. By the end of the following 
century they had practically disappeared, or were mixed up 
with the body of tenant farmers who cultivated both the land 
they rented and owned, and whose interests and character were 
identical. These men were the stubborn, independent people 
who were the making of England, and saved it from the 
absolute tyranny of the Tudor and Caroline Kings. Clement 
Paston, whose son rose to be a judge and his grandson to be a 
county magnate in the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, and 
Richard III, was one of this class. Latimer's father 
also was such an one, and as his son tells us, was a topping 
farmer, and, at the same time, a loyal follower of his sovereign 
Lord the King. Sir Robert Peel's grandfather was also at 
one time a yeoman, but took to manufacture in his later years. 

In the literature of the 18th Century we find that these 
small freeholders still held a prominent part, and Sir Roger 
de Coverly in riding to Quarter Sessions points to the two 
yeomen who are riding in front of him ; and Defoe, in his tour 
through England, speaks with satisfaction of the yeomen of 
Kent, who were called Greycoats from their rough and home- 
spun garments. 

The Holcombe Miniature Rifle Club was started in 1907. 
and practises upon a range of 100, or, if needs be, 150 yards, 
in an excellent situation in full view of the Mendip range and 
Clay Hill, just below the Manor House. The members 
numbered 60 the first few years, but have since that time 
rather fallen off. 

The club teams have been very successful in their matches, 
and indeed have been seldom beaten. The family of Candy 


have particularly distinguished themselves, being nearly all 
excellent marksmen. Prizes have been shot for every year, 
and have been presented by Lord Waldegrave, Lady Dor- 
chester, General Inigo Jones, Colonel E. Clayton, R.A., and 
other kind patrons of the club. (Plates XI and XII.) 

But to proceed with our local surnames. The Homers, 
so long and honourably connected with Mells, seem first to 
have been associated with Holcombe in 1540, when Thomas 
Horner, of Melles, was granted in fee for £540 certain manors 
belonging to the Monastery of Bath. The advowson also of 
the Parish Church of Holcombe, Somerset, and all lands and 
messuages in Westharptre, Bakewell, and Holcombe, belonging 
to the late Monastery of Keynsham, in as full a manner as the 
late Abbot held the same. 

John Horner, of Mells, Sheriff of Somerset, 1565-1572, 
held as free tenant of the Lord of Kilmersdon, in 1571, one 
Farm called Holcombe, sometime the land of Mr. Bamfyld, 
by the suit and service of the manor, and the rent of I2d. paid 
yearly in the feast of St. Michell th'Archangell. The Horner 
family was of old descent. The name Horner takes us back 
to the day when cups and articles were made of horn, and 
children's lesson tablets, containing the alphabet and Lord's 
Prayer, were sheathed in it, and lanterns, and more par- 
ticularly windows, were glazed with it. The horner's chief 
manufacture, though, would be, as Bardsley says, that of the 
musical horn. The bugle horn was used at fair and festival, 
at dance and revelry, in time of peace and war. 

In Chaucer's Franklyn's Tale it is said : 

" James sit by the fire 
With double berd 

And drinketh of his bugle horn the wine ; 
Before him stout brawne of the tusked swine, 
And Nowell crith every lusty man." 

The bugle had a metal plug to stop the mouthpiece, so 
that it might serve as a drinking horn. 

Another name which figures in our churchwardens' 
account book was that of Sydenham Poyntz. He signs his 


name with a grand flourish in the books as a ratepayer and 
warden in 1736. 

There were several branches of this family in our county. 

The family originally came over from Pontoise in Nor- 

A Sir Nicholas Poyntz was of Cury Malet and Iron- Acton 
in the 12th Century. In 1201-2 a Nicholas Poinz of the 
honour of Gloucester paid 23 marks scutage. 

Another Pointz possessed the Manor of Nimpsfield in 
Gloucester, and a descendant of his married a daughter of 
Lord Berkeley. 

A Nicholas Pointz was steward (seneschal) of the Abbey of 
Keynsham in Edward IPs reign. 

The first ancestor of our Sydenham Poyntz, John 
Poyntz, lived at Reigate. He married an Ann Sydenham, 
member of a well-known Somerset family. He died in 1601. 
His sons were John, Sydenham, and Newdigate. 

John Pointz had a most adventurous career. He was 
first a London apprentice, and ran away from his master and 
enlisted in the army, serving in the 30 years' war. He wrote 
a history upon this war, called " Poyntz's Narration," full of 
romance and wonders. He was knighted for his gallantry in 
battle. When he came back he joined the Parliamentary 
forces in 1645. 

We hear of him as commanding those forces at the battle 
of Rowton Heath, where he was completely victorious, and 
captured 900 Royalist prisoners. Of this battle Vicars says : 
" It pleased the Lord to crown him Poyntz with a glorious 
and most famous victory." His title was at that time Colonel 
General Poyntz. 

He became Major-General Poyntz, then he was knighted 
as Sir Sydenham Poyntz. Afterwards he was appointed to a 
command in Virginia. This was taken from him after the 
restoration, and he died there upon his own estate, called 
Cussada Gardens, a name which it still bears. 

He is said to have been a most able, vigilant, and gallant 
soldier, who, by his great tactical skill as a commander, and 


personal bravery, rendered good service to the Parliamentary 

This General John Sydenham Poyntz had a son, Richard,- 
born 1640. He settled at Mells, and was an eminent and 
wealthy clothier, who, it is said, drove a coach and six horses, 
a mark of great dignity in his day. He obtained the lease of 
a house in Mells belonging to the Rectory, and died at Mells, 
intestate, in 1702. 

He had three sons, John, Richard, and William. Richard 
died 1758, and in his will, calls himself " of Mells, Clothier." 
His sons were named Newdigate and Sydenham. Sydenham 
Poyntz was our Holcombe churchwarden. He was of Mid- 
somer Norton, but does not seem to have been much known 
there. The Rector, in 1880, says he can find nothing about 
him. " He appears to me like another Melchisedek." His 
name appears, nevertheless, as manager of Anne Harris' free 
school at Midsomer Norton in 1731, and on the epigraph on 
the eighth bell in Midsomer Norton Church, as Mr. Sydenham 
Poyntz for Madame Hooper, 1750. He writes to his kinsman, 
Admiral Poyntz, from Stratton in 1750. In 1763 he became 
surety for a bond for £600, and calls himself Sydenham Poyntz 
of Downside. He was a man much respected for his probity 
and business habits. He died 1768, and was buried at Mells. 
He bequeathed all his pictures, after his wife's death, to his 
cousin, James Poyntz, of Croscombe. His wife survived her 
husband twenty years, and made her own will, 9th November, 
1787, in which she describes herself as of Stratton-on-the- 
Fosse. She was buried at Mells. She bequeathed to George 
Savage and William Hare as trustees, her estates at Holcombe. 

William Poyntz, youngest son of Richard Poyntz, Senior, 
of Mells, married in 1704 Mary, daughter of Thomas Strode, of 
Stoke Lane, and settled there. The husband and wife 
evidently did not agree, as she lived separately from him. 

Various other names of proprietors and copyholders are 
interesting. Thomas Shute, Gent., had a lease of 4 acres in 
Holcombe Mead, determining on the death of Richard Shute 
and John Green. 


Richard Shute was well known at Kilmersdon. The 
Reverend Henry Shute was the founder of the free school in 
that parish, and Thomas Shute, says Lord Hylton, was the 
probable builder of the older part of the present Manor House 
in 1664. 

Wallwyn was the name of a respectable proprietor in this 
parish, and the indefatigable steward of the Manor of Kil- 
mersdon from 1647 onward. A William Wallwyn also is men- 
tioned in Lord Hylton's history of the latter parish as deputy 
steward in 1600, residing in a house, probably Walton Farm, 
which was sufficiently large to entertain his lord's visitors 
when they came to hold their courts. 

A field called Whitcombe Mead is also called Wallwyn' s 
in this parish. 

A Thomas Wallwyn was escheator of Somerset in 1387. 

The name has been corrupted into Wallin. 

Baldwyn is a corresponding Norman name. 

Strong was another Holcombe name as late as the 18th 
Century. The family had an interesting ancestor. 

In the Somerset Quarter Sessions, in 1610, we read that, 
" Whereas by a letter of Sir William Wade, and by a certi- 
ficate from the parish of Holcombe, it appeareth that William 
Strong hath done good service to his late Majesty (James I) in 
the wars, whereby he hath lost the use of an arm, and that he 
is a very poor man, with a wife and five small children ; it is 
ordered that he shall have 5 marks yearly from the Treasury, 
the first half-yearly payment to be made at this present 
Session. Ilchester, 1616." 

This is a good example, as his name was among the pike- 
men enrolled at Holcombe in 1569 ; who mustered to 
oppose the Spanish invasion of our country. 

We also find two other names known here amongst his 
comrades in arms, viz., Thomas Parfitt (modern Perfect), an 
archer, and Thomas Rache or Rich, also an archer. A David 
Bush served also in the same force in the parish of Kilmersdon. 
A Richard Morgan also is found as a Captain of the Muster, 
and as there was a gentleman of this name holding Holcombe 


Farm, it is not at all unlikely that he was the Richard Morgan 
mentioned. He was the Abbot of Keynsham's tenant of this 
farm in 1538, before it came into the hands of the Homers. 

The name Borde or Bord is frequently found in our old 
records up to the 19th Century. The ancestors of these 
persons evidently belonged to the class of Bordars, as they 
were called, or cottagers, who had to supply the Lord of the 
Manor with produce of various kinds, especially fowls and 
honey, when he came to reside upon his estate. 

Fry, Frye, or Fray was another interesting name. He 
was evidently a survivor of the original freeman or free 

The name King, found at Holcombe, and surviving in 
King's Ground, suggests the enquiry into the reason of the 
great frequency of this name in so many places. 

How could a man come to be called by such a title of 
honour ? 

The probable origin is from the custom of having play- 
kings, queens, and other grandees in the May Day, Easter, 
and Whitsuntide revels. 

Bardsley says : " The king of misrule initiated and con- 
ducted the merry doings of Christmastide, and was a proper 
officer." There were also the king and queen of each village 
enthroned on May morning, who would be sure to keep their 
regal title through the year at least. 

In the same way we can account for some other strange 
names which occur, together with that of King, such as 
Duke, Pope, Earl, Baron, and Bishop. Bishop, perhaps, is 
accounted for by the custom of installing a boy Bishop. But 
the other names evidently stuck to people who were 
accustomed to act these parts in the village plays and pro- 

" Duke William " was a Holcombe man. Le Duk, Le 
Pope, Le Erl, Le Barron, occur often in the Exchequer lay 
subsidy rolls, for our county districts. So also does Le 
Marischall, Le Marshall, Le Mareschal. This individual also 
probably received his name from being the man who mar- 


shalled the procession, and was the master of the ceremonies, 
and like the celebrated Beau Nash at Bath, a recognised 
institution. The Mareschal, however, was the regular name 
for the farrier in mediaeval days. 

Tapp is a name found in the registers. There was a 
Cornelius Tapp and a Lucius Tapp. There were 14 or 15 of 
the name in Somerset in Kelly's Directory of 1890. 

Wyatt, the name of a small and worthy householder 
here, has come down from remote times. 

Its pedigree is Guy, Guyot, Wyot, Wyott, Wyatt. 

Guy or Guyon dates from the tales of Arthur and the 
Round Table. The Norman-French diminutive was Guyot. 
Then the G is softened into W, and so we find such entries as 
Wyot fil Helias, Wyott carpentarius, Wyot Balistarius (cross 
bowman), and finally our modern, rather rare, name of Wyatt, 
which happens to be held by a carpenter, as of yore. 

Some further details as to the history of the persons 
whose names are found in the Exchequer lay subsidy rolls of 
the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries may here be given. 

For instance, we find several of the title and name of 
knights as Adam Le Knyth, Waltero Le Knight, and Willelmo 
Knight. These persons would be freemen, and hold their 
lands of the tenure of knight's service. A full knight's fee 
was reckoned as equivalent to five hides. Knight's Farm and 
Knight's Quarry are places here still. 

An illustration of the duties and liabilities of these 
Knights is given (vide Professor Rogers) in the records of the 
Manor of Ibstone in Oxfordshire. One such holds a virgate 
of land equal to 30 acres by charter, and pays id. yearly at 
Christmas. Besides he holds a croft, for which he pays 8d. 
yearly at Christmas. His liabilities are to ride with his lord 
when there is war between England and Wales, to be armed 
with an iron helmet, breastplate and lance, and to remain 
with his lord at his own charges for 40 days. He is also to do 
suit in the lord's court. 

Probably by the time of the date of this subsidy in 1327, 
this liability to serve in war had quite ceased, and a quit rent 


was paid, as there were no wars between England and Wales 
after 1298, the latter country being completely subdued. 

Quit rents have survived all down the centuries in this 
Manor of Holcombe, and are now payable, no doubt, by those 
who now possess the small portions of land once held in fee by 
these knights, one of whom, in 1302, paid I2d. to Elias de 
Albianaco, Lord of Kilmersdon. 

Then we find a Thoma de Sancto Vigor, who possessed 
property in Holcombe. His ancestor, Thomas de St. Vigor, 
was Lord of the Manor of Stratton. St. Vigor was the patron 
saint to whom the church at Stratton-on-the-Fosse was 
dedicated. St. Vigor was of noble race in Gaul. He was 
pupil to St. Vidart, and was appointed Bishop of Bayeux. 
Probably some Norman settler at Stratton called the church 
after the local saint of his old home. 

Thomas de Santo Vigore was succeeded by Humphrey 
de Sancto Vigore or Victore. He left a son, who did not 
succeed to the Manor, and it was bought by a Gournay. The 
Thomas de Sancto Vigore above mentioned was one of the 
Justices at Ilchester in 1282. In 1278 a safe conduct was 
granted to him to go to the Court of Rome on the king's 
business, and in the next year he received 100s. for his services 
on this occasion. He was the king's (Edward I) clerk. 

Juliana Luzefote is another whose modern name would 
be Lightfoot, and as it is not likely that she figured on the 
boards, it is to be presumed .that she derived her name from 
the field property, " Lightfoot," which is still called by that 
name. There was a famous German potter, we are told, 
whose name was Lyta-fus or Lightfoot. The mechanician 
also who made the famous clock at Wells, with all its 
intricate machinery, was one Peter Lightfoot, a monk of 

Henricus Marchaunt was, we may suppose, the pur- 
veyor of goods to the village, or, perhaps, the itinerant 
pedlar, the man whose generic title was that of a monger, as 
our costermonger and ironmonger are now. He was not a 
merchant like him of Venice. 


The wool trade was represented in 1581 by a Woolford, 
and the linen trade by an Elford. 

There was also a Johann Tayler in the Subsidy Roll of 
Queen Elizabeth, 1570. She was evidently the ancestress of a 
John Taylor, who bought land and houses in the parish from 
Israel Bawne, of Bristol, in 1685. No doubt she made her 
money in the tailoring business. 

Nicholas also is a familiar and old name at Holcombe. 
St. Nicholas or Niclaus was Bishop of Myra. He was the 
patron saint of scholars and sailors. He was said to have 
been of so religious a turn that even in his infancy he would 
only take the breast once a day upon the usual fast days. 

Another payee is John Cockys, who, in 1524, was assessed 
upon his personal goods the sum of ijs. as a subsidy upon rate- 
able value of 51/-. This man's ancestor probably was a cook, 
an office of importance in the household of kings and nobles. 
Le Cocq occurs at the time of the Conqueror, and is still a 
surname in Normandy and Brittany. Stephen Le Cokke 
was Provost of Bristol in 1261, and James Cokkys Bailiff 
in 1407. 

Chaucer gives a place to the cook alongside of the Man- 
riple, the Sompnour and the Reeve in his train of Canterbury 

The cook was probably known even in our country 

Mr. Baring Gould thinks that the terminals cock and cox 
after such syllables as Will, Han, Bud, Sim, are not diminu- 
tives as Lower and Bardsley allege, but indicate the office of 
cook. So Will-cox would be William the Cook, Simcox, Simon 
the Cook ; Badcock, Bartholomew theXook ; Hancock, Jan or 
John the Cook ; J effcock, Geoffrey LeCoq. That cock or cox 
is so common a terminal in Norman names indicates that the 
Norman lords did not trust to having Englishmen in their 
kitchens to prepare their food. The name Cocky has sur- 
vived in Frome no longer in its original meaning, but as 
attached to persons connected with the healing art and the 
iron foundry. 



Gregory Hippisley also paid a subsidy in 1620 and 1628, 
which was probably the obnoxious ship-money. 

This name occurs frequently in records of this district. 

In one of the deeds called " Feet of fines," in the writer's 
possession, dated 1567, John Clovelshey remits and quit 
claims to John Hippesley and his heirs for ever 10 messuages, 
6 tofts, 10 gardens, ten orchards, 120 acres of arable land, 60 
acres of meadow, 120 acres of pasture, 40 acres of wood, and 
50 acres of gorse and heath in Kilmersdon, Nonney, Truttocks- 
hill, Cloford, Stratton, South Petherton, and South Arpe. 

In 1571 John Hipsley is stated to be a manorial officer of 
Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, and Lady Catherine, widow, 
Countess of Huntingdon, at Kilmersdon. 

In 1664 it is recorded in a deed by which John Salmon is 
put into possession of Holcombe Farm on payment of a fine 
of £377 that all the land in question situated in Holcombe and 
Kilmersdon was heretofore in the occupation of one Arthur 
Hippsley deceased. 

This name seems to have had a pretty origin, taken from 
natural history. There is a rare bird, with fine plumage, 
splendid crest, and long bill, a native of foreign parts, but a 
visitor to our Southern shores in the spring. This is the 
Hoopoe, so called from the French Huppe, which denotes a 
crest, the most striking characteristic of the bird. Some, 
however, assert that its name is derived from the sound of its 
note, which is not unlike the coo of a wood-pigeon, which it 
repeats several times in the nesting season, while at other 
times it emits a sound like the shrill note of the greenfinch. 

Its Latin name is Upupa. The common name in early 
days for this rare bird was Hippie, from the French Huppe. 
There was a John Hippy at Coleford in 161 1 who was a 
notorious trespasser, ■ 

It gave the name to a good family at Babington, 
benefactors to Frome, for we find in Collinson's History that 
a Jane Hippie gave an endowment to the Almshouse on the 

Is it not very probable that the first of the Hippisley 


family, now so well known and honourably associated with the 
parish of Stoneaston, was so called because he dwelt hard by 
the field or ley where this rare bird, the Hippie, was accus- 
tomed to build its nest if undisturbed, and to serenade its 
bride with its soft and loving notes ? The Hippisley may, 
however, have been a field where the wild rose or hip grew 
freely, which seems to be the origin of a place name in Wilt- 
shire, Hippenscombe. 

Then, again, there was the village blacksmith, Johanne 
Fabro de Cherltone, a most important personage, whose 
services were indispensable to the agricultural community. 
He lived out of Holcombe as we see, and probably served both 
the parishes of Holcombe and Kilmersdon. 

Besides assisting the carpenter in the making of ploughs, 
he was usually bound to shoe certain of the lord's horses, and 
if one died he got the skin to make his bellows with ; he had 
also to sharpen the mowers' scythes in hay- time, and to repair 
and bind the vessel for making cheese, and for these services 
he received a return in kind, and also was relieved from 
ploughing his acre or paying any rent for it. 

At Werkworth we find that William the blacksmith 
held 9 acres of land for making the ironwork of the ploughs 
and for shoeing the horses. The iron was bought for him at 
the great fairs, and generally supplied in bars of 4-lb. weight. 
The writer found one such on the Manor Farm at Holcombe, 
which had evidently not been delivered to the smith. 

The family of Green were well known in Holcombe for 
upwards of a hundred years. The first of the family there 
was Mr. Emanuel Green, born 1762, died 1834. 

His sons were John Asman Green, a man of men, who 
built and resided in the House, as it was then called, and died 
therein in 1859 5 a l so William Ashman Green, of Lynch 
House, Lord of the Manor of East End, died 1870 ; Robert 
Ashman Green, of Flint House, died 1858 ; and James 
Ashman Green, of Hill House, Lord of the Manor of Priddy, 
died 1 87 1. 

Mr; Emanuel Green, F.S.A., F.R.S.L., Author of the 

Page in, line 25, after English History read as that of 
Lord Chancellor Clarendon whose uncle Sir Nicholas Hyde, 
Chief Justice of the King's Bench, was connected with this 
district in his earlier days as lessee of the Duchy coal mines 
at Stratton, and whose daughter Anne Hyde became the 
wife of the Duke of York, afterwards James II., and was 
the mother of Anne and Mary, both Queens of Great Britain. 
The name was well known in this parish as that of Hyde 
Whalley Salmon Tooker of Norton Hall, a former proprietor, 
son of Francis Whalley of Winscombe Court, Colonel 2nd 
Somerset Militia, and himself Deputy Lieutenant of the 
County. He was authorised by licence to take the names of 
Salmon and Tooker, and the arms of the latter family as their 
heir and representative. He sold his lands in Holcombe in 
1 8 14 to Mr. James Eyre Salmon. The present representative 
and sole survivor of these four families is Mr. Hyde Salmon 
Whalley Tooker, of Hampshire. 


" Bibliotheca Somersetensis," and other works, and joint 
originator with the late Bishop Hobhouse of the " Somerset 
Record Society's " publication, Captain 22nd East Mendip 
R.V. on the starting of that force in i860 ; and Major Arthur 
Green, of the Mells Troop of North Somerset Yeomanry, a 
J. P. for the county, are still living, and are grandsons of the 
first-named Mr. Emanuel Green. 

This family married into that of Ashman, one of whom, 
Mr. William Ashman, was of Egford House, and died 1831'; 
and another was of Flint House and Knight's Farm in this 
parish. He was an Alderman of the City of Bath, and died 
February 4th, 1841, aged 65 years. 

Lastly the name Hewish, found both as a surname and 
place name, may be mentioned, having an interesting deriva- 
tion. It is a variant of the term for the old land measure, 
the hide, roughly estimated at 120 acres, but in reality varying 
in extent according to the convenience, arability, and quality 
of the land, being the amount of land deemed sufficient for 
the maintenance of one family or tribal clan, called in Latin, 
" terra familiar. " The name Hewish was the latest form 
which the word took, as it passed through the following 
variations — Hide, Hiwisc, Hiwisce, Hewish, and Huish. So 
Hide and Hewish are equivalent terms for a family holding, 
and have the same origin. Hide has become Hyde, a name 
well known in English History. Lord Chancellor Clarendon's 
father was Sir Nicholas Hyde, who rented the Duchy coal pits 
at Stratton in 1627, and his daughter, Ann Hyde, married 
James II, whose daughter married William III. Hyde 
Whalley was a near relative of Dr. Whalley, and a Hyde 
married a Tooker, of Norton Hall. Mr. Hyde Whalley 
Salmon Tooker is now the representative of the various 
branches of the family connected with the Hydes of Somerset. 

Chapter V. 


IT may seem a barren task to attempt to picture the social 
state of people who lived so long ago as the folk of the 
Stone Age. The man of that day has well been called 
the man without a story. But the researches of modern days 
have almost telescoped him into view. We can almost 
picture him to ourselves as he was, by the relics which he has 
left behind him, and which have been more and more 
deciphered by the explorers of the sepulchral barrows in which 
his bones lie buried. From these long hidden memorials we 
are beginning to realise what was the stage of culture, the 
facial type, the habits of life, and even the form of religion of 
the earliest race of men who peopled our island. 

The authority of Mr. Elton may be quoted as substan- 
tiating this statement. " So much research," he says, "has been 
expended of late years that we can form some clear idea of the 
habits of the people of that time, of the nature of their homes, 
and even of their physical appearance. From the bones 
which have been found in the tombs, and from the ancient 
flint mines like those of Brandon, in Suffolk, anatomists have 
concluded that these stone-age Britons were not unlike the 
modern Eskimo. They were short and slight, with muscles 
too much developed for their slender bones, with faces of oval 
shape, and their skulls long and narrow, and with black eyes 
and dark skins and hair." 

It is all the more interesting for us to know all this, 
because there can be no doubt of our kinship with these early 
men of the Stone Age. No continuity of race can be proved 
between the savages of the preceding paleolithic age and any 
nation now to be found in Western Europe. But many 
traces of such continuity and survival between these Stone 



Age men and ourselves may undoubtedly be found. The 
study, for instance, of the skulls of the present inhabitants of 
the British Islands, of their physique and complexion, has 
convinced the anthropologist that we have still among us a 
large number of men who are at least in part the descendants 
of these Non- Aryan men of the Stone Age. The researches 
of the late lamented Dr. Beddoe and others have gone a long 
way to prove that this prehistoric race, who built the long- 
chambered barrows, have never been exterminated, but that 
their blood still runs in the veins, and their racial features may 
be yet seen in the people of the west at the present day. Dr. 
Beddoe says that the features of the dark Non- Aryan Silures 
of the Forest of Dean, who were an Iberian race akin to the 
Stone Age men, are still to be traced in the population of 
Glamorgan, Brecknock, Radnor, and Hereford, while in some 
parts of Pembroke, Lancaster, Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon, 
Somerset, Wilts, and Gloucester the same racial characteristics 
present themselves. That this is true of our part of Somerset, 
which was once called West Wales, any observer of the 
physical features of our people must admit. The long heads, 
dark eyes, and black hair are conspicuous. The low 
stature also is that of the prehistoric man, rather than of the 
Celt or Briton. We see fewer tall, fair, heavy men, such as 
were the Celts, than short, thick, lithe men, such as the men of 
the Stone Age. 

Again it may also be safely said that the relics we find in 
these barrows show that the men of the Stone Age were no 
mere painted savages as some imagine. 

Even the Paleolithic or cave man was not wanting in 
some of the characteristics of civilisation. Indeed, in one 
respect he was in advance of his successors of the Stone Age. 
His artistic skill was wonderful. He could represent by 
means of rough but accurate carvings on bone, and some- 
times on stone and ivory, the animals familiar to him, such as 
the reindeer, urus, bison, and mammoth, and the hunting 
scenes which most vividly impressed themselves upon his 



The outlines of the animals he engraved are so good that 
a learned Frenchman, Dr. R. Verneau, says it is often possible 
to identify even the species of the type. In their workman- 
ship of stone implements they were excelled by the Stone 
Age men. Their flints were far less delicately fashioned and 
polished, and were often of a rough and ready kind. No 
wonder, since instead of flint they used quartzite, which is far 
harder and more difficult to work, as the stone crackers on 
our Holcombe roads well know. At least such was the 
material they used at the caves near Mentone which the writer 
visited last year, and which contained human skeletons (one 
7 ft. 2 in. in length), and in the lower series of strata bones of 
reindeer, elephants, and rhinoceros. But there can be no 
doubt but that the Stone Age men excelled this earlier race in 
everything except artistic skill. 

" To the Neolithic people," says Boyd Dawkins, " we 
owe the rudiments of the culture which we ourselves enjoy." 
The arts which they introduced have never been forgotten, 
and all subsequent progress has been built upon their founda- 

Their arts, of which they only possessed the rudiments, 
have developed into the industries of spinning, weaving, 
pottery making, mining, smelting, without which we can 
scarcely realise what our lives would be. 

A vivid picture of a Neolithic village, which would be 
quite applicable to our village of Holcombe, is drawn by Boyd 
Dawkins in the following words. Fancy a landscape some- 
what of this kind. 

" Thin lines of smoke rising from among the trees of the 
dense virgin forest (say Selwood), at our feet would mark the 
position of the Neolithic homestead, and the neighbouring 
stockaded camp, which afforded refuge in time of need, while 
here and there a gleam of gold would show the small patch of 
ripening wheat. We enter a track in the forest and thread 
our way to one of the clusters of homesteads, passing herds 
of goats and flocks of horned sheep, or disturbing a troop of 
horses, or stumbling upon a shepherd tending the hogs in their 


search after roots. We should certainly have to defend our- 
selves against the attack of some of the large dogs, which were 
famed beyond our shores, used as guardians of the flock 
against bears, wolves, foxes, and for hunting wild animals: 
At last, on emerging into the clearing, we should see a little 
plot of flax or small-eared wheat, and near the homestead the 
inhabitants, clad, some in linen, but the most in skins, and 
ornamented with necklaces and pendants of stone, bone or 
pottery, and carrying on their daily occupation. Some are 
cutting wood with stone axes, with a wonderfully sharp edge, 
fixed in wooden handles, with stone adzes and gouges, or with 
little saws composed of carefully notched pieces of flint about 
3 or 4 inches long, splitting it with stone wedges, scraping it 
and their skins also with flint flakes. Some are busy grinding 
and sharpening the various stone tools, scraping skins with 
implements of flint ground to a circular edge, while the women 
are preparing the meal with pestles and mortars and grain 
rubbers, and cooking it on the fire, generally outside the 
house ; or spinning thread with spindle and whorl, or mould- 
ing rude cups and vessels out of clay which had been carefully 

This may give us some idea of the social life of our earliest 
ancestors before we come to the historic age ; but during the 
Roman occupation, just before the Christian era, we have 
numerous short glimpses of the life and state of their successors 
from the pens of contemporary writers. From them we learn 
that the Britons dwelt in villages fortified by a rampart and 
ditch, inside which were their huts and cattle, and that they 
harvested their corn in holes underground until wanted to 
meet the needs of the day. They lived on flesh and milk 
chiefly, and drank a mild beverage called metheglin, made of 
honey and beer. They painted themselves with woad, wore 
their hair long, and pushed it back to the crown to make the 
forehead look bigger. They shaved all except the upper lip ; 
their personal ornaments were tasteful and costly, their chiefs 
wore gold collars round their necks and arms. These torques, 
as they were called, were given as prizes for skill and valour, 


and the phrase, " dwyn-y-dorek," which means to win the 
torque, is to this day to be heard in Wales for winning any 
prize, though the rings themselves have long ago disappeared. 

Strabo tells us that the Britons imported, amongst other 
things, bridles, gold chains, cups of amber, drinking vessels of 
glass, and tinsel ornaments of all kinds. We learn, also, that 
they had a large export trade. They dealt largely in lead, 
pigs of which were transported all along the ridge of our 
Mendip Hills to the coast of Hampshire, where they found 
their way to the Continent, down the Rhine as far as Mar- 
seilles. Britain was also no mean emporium for the export of 
corn, by which the Roman colonists abroad were often saved 
from starvation. 

Silver, iron, fleeces, skins, dogs of large breed, used for 
hunting wild boars, were also among their exports. Strangest 
of all was the exportation of chalk, shipped from the coast of 
Kent to Zealand on the opposite shore, where it was doubtless 
used as a manure like marl. A remarkable illustration of this 
trade is found in an inscription discovered upon an altar in 
Zealand; which tells how one Secundus Sylvanus, a British 
chalk merchant, vowed an altar to a certain goddess, " Nehe- 
lennia," the patroness of sailors, for his preservation from 

The Britons also, we learn, smelted iron in the Weald of 
Sussex and also in the Forest of Dean, and likely enough, too, 
in this parish of Holcombe, where such a quantity of ashes of 
very imperfectly smelted iron is found. 

They had a coinage of their own when the Romans con- 
quered them, and again when the Romans finally left the 
island. Altogether they had advanced far beyond the stage 
of painted and naked savages, and, in fact, had attained to a 
comparatively high state of civilisation. 

In many respects, also, they were at as high a level of 
civilisation as the natives of Gaul and Spain. They were 
sufficiently scientific to use wheeled ploughs and a variety of 
manures, loam and chalk in particular. Those near the 
coast in the south-eastern part of our island, were also corn 


growers, wheat, barley, and millet being among their crops, 
but as the great traveller, Pytheas of Marseilles, who landed 
in Britain, tells us, they threshed out their corn, owing to lack 
of clear sunshine, not in open threshing floors, as in Italy, but 
in barns. Even this threshing of corn was only practised by 
those highest in development, the true Britons of the south 
and east. Those living in remoter western parts stored the 
corn in their underground dwellings, taking out day by day 
what was needed for each meal, and as the women in the 
Hebrides did in 1670, burning off the husk and winnowing the 
grain in the hand and baking it forthwith. Few of these 
remoter Celts had got beyond the pastoral stage of human 
development. Strabo tells us they had not sense enough to 
make cheese, though they had plenty of milk, and almost 
lived upon it. Cheese making, in fact, was taught them 
evidently by the Romans, for their name for cheese, "caws," 
was derived from the Roman word, " Caseus." They were 
also rather poor dairymen, as they milked their cows so in- 
ordinately that their calves, from want of nourishment, never 
attained to any size, and their cow was a poor, stunted animal. 
But their women could weave, and spin, as we find by the 
whorls which are frequently dug up in their village sites. 

The relics of their domestic life found in some of the old 
Romano-British cities, like Uriconium and Silchester, show 
every sign of peaceful cultivation of art and industry. Abund- 
ance of domestic pottery, some of it glazed and elegantly 
turned and ornamented, thimbles and needles, and rings with 
engraved gems, were found everywhere. Basket making, 
too, was a speciality in Britain under the Romans, and in- 
scriptions also survive to tell us that such trades as those of 
goldsmiths, silversmiths, architects, must have figured in 
Romano-British life. One thing was very sparsely, if ever 
found in these dwelling places, viz., weapons of offence or 
defence. This was to be accounted for by the fact that no 
natives were allowed to bear arms, and also that none needed 
to do so, for a universal peace reigned everywhere. This 
" Pax Romana," as it was called, was a wonderful feature of 


Roman rule during those centuries, and Britain nourished 
under it. There was no need to bear arms, except for external 
warfare in the Roman armies, and no one dreamt of doing so. 
Everyone sat in quiet under his own " fig-tree," and pursued 
his private avocations without let or hindrance. The only 
stipulation laid down was the punctual payment of taxation, 
but this, as the State finances fell into the hands of farming 
usurers, became more and more onerous and intolerable. Yet 
as long as the central administration at Rome retained its 
integrity, this grievance was not felt, and the people led con- 
tented and easy and unmolested lives. They imitated the 
example of their conquerors, dressed like them, bathed like 
them, feasted like them, amused themselves as they did with 
the excitement of the theatre and hippodrome, and cultivated 
the liberal arts and sciences to the neglect of bodily exercises 
and martial pursuits, and so became enervated and emascu- 
lated. This was no doubt part of the express policy of the 
Romans. They either made a solitude, and called it peace' 
or kept their conquered people quiet by the seductive method 
of administering to their sensuous tastes and love of ease and 
pleasure. So, as long as the legions remained in Britain to 
protect its inhabitants, all went well ; but when they were 
withdrawn to Italy to stay the hordes of hungry Goths and 
Huns who were pouring down upon its defenceless plains and 
cities, the unhappy Britons, left without a guard and without 
military experience, fell a far easier prey to the invading hosts 
of Saxons who swarmed in upon them than they had 400 years 
before to the Roman legions. They could neither hold the 
wall against the Picts, nor the coast against the Saxons. In 
the words of the old chronicle, " Hengist and Aesc, his son, 
fought once more with the Welsh at Crayford, and off-slew 
4,000 men, and the Britons then forsook Kent-land, and fled 
with mickle awe to London-bury. And again the Saxons at 
once fought the natives and off-slew many Welsh, and drove 
some in flight into the wood that is called Audredesleag, now 
the Weald of Kent and Sussex." Hardly ever could the 
Britons make a stand against them, so terrible were their eyes, 


so fierce their onslaught, so murderous their short, broad 
swords. These same swords gave the Saxons their name. 

It is interesting also to know what these Celtic people 
were like, and how they dressed. The features and physique 
of these Romano-British people probably resembled that of 
their kinsmen in Gaul. All the Celts of this age were tall, pale 
and light-haired, rather loose-limbed, and wanting in muscular 
power. The woman's head was uncovered, and the hair tied 
in an elegant knot upon the neck, while the men wore a soft 
hat of a modern pattern. They wore a blouse with sleeves, 
confined in some cases with a belt, with trousers or breeches, 
as they were called, drawn in tight at the ankle, such as the 
agricultural labourer now wears. The satyrist, Martial, says : 
" As loose as the old breeches of a British pauper." A Tartan 
plaid, fastened up at the shoulder with a round brooch, which 
was afterwards superseded by the bow-shaped Roman fibula, 
covered all the rest. They delighted in partly-coloured 
garments, and learned the art of using alternate colours for 
the warp and the woof, so as to bring out a pattern of stripes 
and squares. Their cloth was chequered with various designs 
and hues of colour, being dyed, with the juice of certain kinds 
of lichens and other plants. They were fond of ornaments, 
wore collars and torques of gold, and strings of bright- 
coloured beads made of glass, of a material like Egyptian 
porcelain. "A chief dressed in the Gaulish fashion" (says Mr. 
Elton, to whose pen I am indebted for much of this description), 
"must have been a surprising sight to a traveller. His clothes 
were of a flaming and fantastic hue, his hair hung down like a 
horse's maine, or was pushed forward on his forehead in a 
thick shock, if he followed the usual fashion. The hair and 
moustaches were dyed red with the gallic soap, a mixture of 
goat's fat and the ashes of beechen logs. They looked for all 
the world," says Posidonius, when he saw them first, "like 
satyrs or wild men of the woods." 

The British, too, had attained to no little proficiency in 
the art of navigation before the Romans left our island. Even 
at a much earlier period the Britons were famed as skilful and 


adventurous voyagers. In their rough hide-covered coracles 
of wood, they braved the swift currents and stormy waves of 
the Irish sea. In frail crafts they sailed down the shores of 
the British Channel to the Isle of Thanet, the ancient Ictis, a 
six days' voyage, laden, too, with the precious tin which the 
merchants of Marseilles were to convey across to the Continent 
to their Grecian colony. It seems almost incredible that such a 
crazy craft should have weathered the gales which swept our 
shores, but such boats are still in use on the wild rollers which 
break on the coasts of Ireland, and are found able to live in 
seas which would be fatal to anything more rigidly built. 
The surf boats at Madras are as light and flimsy, being held 
together without nails, and yet, or perhaps we should say in 
consequence, they can face breakers which would crush an 
ordinary boat to pieces. This was the elementary school, in 
which the gallant sailors were brought up who routed the 
great galleons of Spain, and whose flag braved the battle and 
the breeze under a Howe, a Blake, and a Nelson. Later on 
in Julius Caesar's day, we find our British ancestors taking 
again to the sea in more sea-worthy vessels, and for enter- 
prises of a larger scale. 

They had, it appears, joined the Veneti (inhabitants of 
Vannes in Brittany), whose powerful navy had secured the 
command of the channel. The Damnonians, or Devonshire 
men, whose descendants have always furnished us with our 
best sailors and sea captains, as Drake, Hawkins, and Raleigh, 
sent their young men to man this fleet. A squadron of 
British ships took part in the great sea-fight which was the 
immediate cause of Caesar's invasion of the island, and gave 
him as much as he could do to overmaster them. They were 
built upon the same principle as those of the great Armoric 
league, to which their sailors belonged, and by reason of their 
flatter keels, higher forecastle and poops, more solid bodies, 
and greater strength of iron bolts and chains, they had, as 
Caesar says, a great advantage over him in the matter of ships. 
When, however, they had to manoeuvre within a small space, 
they had the worst of it, as soon as the Romans bethought them 


of sharp hooks with long handles to cut their ropes and render 
useless their sails, which were made of hides, and on which they 
depended rather than upon oars. The size of their fleet may 
be estimated from the fact that the Veneti managed to get 
together on their own coast of Brittany 220 vessels, fully 
manned, to oppose Caesar's fleet as soon as it sailed out of the 
Loire. They were, however, rather trading vessels than ships 
fitted for war, and how far these ancient sailors of the Armoric 
league, to which the Britons belonged, could have ventured 
out into the open sea without a mariner's compass to guide 
them, we have no means of ascertaining. We need not 
suppose, says Mr. Rhys, that Caesar's conquest of these 
Veneti and the Armoric league caused the art of ship- 
building to be lost on the shores of Gaul and Britain, 
and it is not improbable that these ships became the 
pattern for all vessels used afterwards by the Romans 
in British waters, so that our marine of the present day 
may be regarded in a manner as deriving its descent 
through the shipping of the Veneti, from that of the proud 
merchants of Tyre and Sidon, who had bequeathed to them 
the legacy of their secret traffic in tin and their skill and enter- 
prise. Time passed on, and under the Romans' dominion we 
hear no more of Britain's fleet for many a year. But her naval 
skill and spirit was only dormant, and woke up again to new 
life when Rome's hand became slack and weakened by decay. 
Under the usurpation of Carausius the Pirate, and Allectus, 
his murderer and successor, Britain was so entirely mistress of 
the sea that now, for the first time, she may be said to have 
ruled the waves. Even in Mediterranean waters her fleet 
appeared, and on the coins struck at this time the favourite 
type of device upon the reverse is the British warship and 
Britannia with the trident in her hand. The vessels figured 
are always not Saxon keels, but classical galleys w T ith their 
rams and outboard rowing galleries, and they are always 
represented as completely cleared for action, the mainsail and 
its yard being purposely omitted in the figure. This figure of 
Britannia is seen on the reverse of the coins of the later Caesars. 


On the reverse of one of the coins of Allectus is seen a ship 
represented ready for action as we have said, and the inscrip- 
tion, Virtus Augusti, with Q. L. below, which is supposed to 
stand for Questor Londinensis. Allectus was defeated and 
slain by Constantius, who blockaded his allies in the harbour 
of Boulogne, across which he threw a boom, and so barred 
their fleets from access to the sea, and though caught in a fog 
himself while crossing the channel, he managed to escape the 
notice of the British fleet lying off the Isle of Wight. After 
burning his own ships, he was marching straight on London 
when he met the usurper, completely defeated his army, and 
rescued the Metropolis from the hands of Frankish mercenaries 
who had formed the main part of the army of Allectus. This 
closed the episode of the usurping sea captain, and placed Con- 
stantius, and after him Constantine, the first Christian Caesar, 
upon the throne, first of Britain, then of the Roman Empire. 
The Teutonic invasion which swept over this land after 
the withdrawal of the Roman Legions was at first only a series 
of piratical raids, but the invaders soon came in greater 
numbers and confidence. The route which their last invasion 
took into this county is well marked by the names of the 
various parishes, from east to west, in the district around us. 
Their line of march seems to have been from the neighbour- 
hood of Gillingham, where the battle of the Pens was fought, 
to Kilmington, Hardington, Beckington, Lullington, Babing- 
ton, Luckington, straight into the heart of this neighbourhood. 
Each settlement had its mark or boundary within which its 
own rights were most jealously guarded, and between each such 
mark there was a space of neutral ground, across which no 
one dared to venture without blowing a horn to signal his 
approach. Within these marks the various tribes settled, as 
the Babingas at Babington, the Heardingas at Hardington, the 
Hemingas at Hemington, the Lullingas at Lullington, the 
Locingas (later Lokys) at the old Manor at Luckington. No 
surer evidence of the settlement of our Saxon forefathers in our 
midst can be given than by this list of the various place names 
which constituted their several marks. 


These Saxon forefathers of ours must have considerably 
changed the condition of things in our village. As long as 
they remained heathen, of course, they pillaged and slayed or 
massacred the ancient inhabitants of the land. The cities 
were generally destroyed with all their wealth of Roman art 
and civilisation. 

The crane and the bittern built their nests in the reeds 
and sedge which grew on the spot where Roman citizens and 
Roman ladies had bathed in the healing waters of Aquae Sulis, 
or Bathanceaster, our modern Bath. 

Other cities, like Silchester, Corinium or Cirencester, Uri- 
conium or Wroxeter, Pevensey and London, shared the same 

It is certainly a mistake, however, to suppose that the 
early Britons or Celts were anything like exterminated by the 
Teutonic invaders. 

No doubt they massacred great numbers of the native 
race who attempted to oppose them, but they also made 
slaves of a large number as well. Probably, also, at their first 
inroads when they came without their families, they must 
have taken many Celtic women as wives or concubines. But 
large numbers of the conquered race were also driven into in- 
accessible parts of the country, where they would hold out so 
long as to be practically left in undisturbed possession. Even 
at the end of the sixth century we are told by Sir F. Palgrave, 
that there were inaccessible places, like the Fens, where the 
older inhabitants managed to hold out. We know, ajso, that 
there existed double cities, where the two races lived as neigh- 
bours, like Exeter, the southern part of which was English, 
while the northern part was Celtic, as shown by the dedication 
of the churches to British Saints, while at Shrewsbury the 
Severn divided the two races. 

In Somerset we find the same thing ; all along what seems 
to have been a border line separating the two races at one 
time, and which stretched from the mouths of the Axe to 
Wells, and thence northward by Bath to Malmesbury, we have 
names still remaining to show that for a time the Britons 


and the English dwelt side by side, each in their own 

The compact which settled their boundaries would prob- 
ably have been made after the battle of Wodnes-borough, 
or Wan-borough, when the Celtic races sided with the 
Saxons, and helped them to defeat King Ceawlin. The 
English, as we know, superciliously called the Britons 
Wealas (foreigners), using the term in much the same 
way as our villagers speak of strangers as " Voreigners." 
Close to Wells, for instance, we have a place called 
Walls-comb, i.e., the comb of the Wealas, or foreigners. 
Travelling northwards we have close by Camerton, Wallsmead, 
and hard by is Englishbatch. Then a little north we have in 
like manner, on one side, Englishbatch, and on the other, 
Walcot. The hamlets of Charlton and Walton tell the same 
tale. Remembering that these names were all given by the 
Saxons themselves, they are evidence that the native races 
maintained a sufficient hold on a portion of the territory to 
stamp on them the fact of their still existing as a distinct race. 

Later on the monastic bodies freed their Celtic slaves in 
numbers. Our good King Ina, of Wessex, gave special rights 
to his Welsh or British subjects in Somerset, and King Alfred 
speaks in his will of his little wealcyn or Celtic tenants. 

On the condition of our villages in those far off days, 
when Saxon and Celt lived together, the one as the owner, the 
other as the tiller of the soil, we can, of course, say little. One 
thing seems to have distinguished them from each other, the 
Britons lived in scattered hamlets, the Saxons, on the other 
hand, held close together for protection's sake, along the banks 
of streams, in regular streets. The Celtic abode also was 
more like a boarding house where many families congregated, 
and slept on open couches round the walls, called gwelys or 
weles, while each Saxon had his private dwelling-house, called 
a " cott." These cotts would each have its little toft or croft, 
where they grew their vegetables and reared their poultry and 
kept their bees. The culture of bees was carefully carried on 
in early days. In Wales the food rent paid to their chieftains 


by the members of the household, which food rent was called 
gwesta, consisted largely of honey. In the gwentian code a 
separate section was devoted to the law of bees. The origin of 
bees was traced to Paradise, and bees were held to be specially 
under God's blessing. 

The price of a swarm of bees in August was equal to the 
price of an ox ready for the yoke, i.e., ten or fifteen times its 
present value in proportion to the ox. 

Honey was invaluable for making wax candles for the mass, 
and for making mead, which was three times the price of beer. 
The mead brewer was an important royal officer in all 
the three divisions of Wales. 

The Saxon houses and churches were mostly built of 
wood, and were situated in villages outside which lay the open 
fields, where the acre strips were cultivated in common by the 
village community. 

This, of course, was when they once were settled down 
upon the land. Before that their system was to clear a space 
in the wood till they got all they could out of it, then to go 
on to the next uncultivated site ; and as I have said, each 
little settlement guarded its boundary, stones being placed to 
mark the boundaries which, under the title of mere-stones, 
survived into later times. " Cursed is he that removeth his 
neighbour's landmark " was no senseless formula in those days, 
as it is now when recited in our commination service. The 
custom prevailed to within late years of keeping up the tradi- 
tion of such boundaries by a procession of elders at Rogation- 
tide round the village, at which a little playful castigation, ad- 
ministered to some juveniles in the crowd as a kind of memoria 
technica, was accompanied by a liberal distribution of pence 
to sweeten it. 

The boundary stones of Holcombe parish, on the east 
side, are still to be found in the position clearly indicated by 
the old terriers. Within these boundaries in Saxon days the 
little village communities of this district settled down to a life 
of simple agricultural occupations, and from a nation of 
pirates the Saxons became a nation of farmers. 


As time went on the constitution of these settlements 
became more and more manorial, and separate landowners 
absorbed the territory. The lesser freemen gradually lost 
their independence owing to the need felt for maintenance 
and protection. The Lord or Thane lived upon his Manor, 
which he tilled by the service of his churls, to whom he gave 
lands in return on the outlying portions of his estate. His 
income was derived from the produce of these serf -tilled lands, 
and from the sale of his slaves, who were taken from the early 
natives of the land and were shipped from the ports of London 
and Bristol to southern shores. 

The country was largely composed of such Manors, inter- 
spersed with forest and fen, each with the wooden hall of its 
lord, round which were collected the homesteads and huts of 
the churls and serfs on the outskirts. 

Everything was home grown and home made : bread, 
bacon, butter, cheese, clothing, furniture, and agricultural 
implements. The corn was ground in the rude quern or hand- 
mill, the beer was brewed and the honey collected by the 
family. The members of the household were the weavers, 
spinners, shoemakers (or cordwainers), smiths and carpenters 
of the manorial community. Towns were rendered unneces- 
sary, as each manor was self-sufficing. Forest and heath, 
the hunting ground of kings, and the chases of nobles, stretched 
for miles outside these manors. 

On the borders of Selwood, and hard by the king's forest of 
Mendip, nestled the village of Holcombe, with its two hamlets, 
each lying along the stream which turned its mills, and ran 
ever down to join the brimming river Avon at Bradford 

" For men may come and men may go, but I go on for ever." 

Chapter VI. 


THE Norman conquest probably made little difference 
in the status of the labouring classes of England. The 
position of the old Saxon thanes and frankleigns 
was no doubt much altered for the worse. Domesday shows 
us how few were allowed to retain their property. But the 
geneats, geburs, and theows were probably no worse off than 
they were before. The theows were kept as household 
drudges, farm labourers, the rest became villein tenants of 
their new lords. The Normans who came over with the Con- 
queror were soldiers of fortune, despised farming, and employed 
the old tillers of the soil to do such dirty work, or base service,, 
as they would have called it. Only two distinctions of service 
were recognised .by them — knight's service and bond service. 
By Edward First's reign knight's service had been commuted 
for a fixed rent, for which the lord could distrain upon the 
freeman's lands. The knight was a freeman, and only owed 
fealty to his superior lord ; the villein was, to all intents and 
purposes, at least, up to the end of the 12th century, a bond 

He had no rights as against his lord, though he could 
assert them against all others. He could not quit the manor 
or leave his nest as it was called, without leave, and if by 
escaping to another privileged township and domiciling 
himself there he established a claim to live elsewhere, he 
had to pay a poll tax, called Chevage, in token of his being 
still his lord's man. In early Norman times he could not 
hold property, nor dispose of it apart from his lord, but if his 
lord permitted him to hold property, the villein had all 
remedies in respect of it against a third party ; but later on his 
goods were certainly, to a great extent, his own, as he had to 



pay subsidies upon them as personal chattels to the king's 

Of course they were always subject upon his death to the 
payment of a heriot, a perquisite of the lord, which seems to be 
a limitation of the tenant's exclusive right to hold personal 
property. The mercheat was another peculiar badge of 
servitude, consisting in the payment of a fine for licence to 
marry a daughter, especially to any other than a dweller upon 
the same manor. 

Leirwite, or a penalty paid for a daughter's frailties, was 
another mark of servitude, and so was the licence needed to 
permit a son to be tonsured or to become a student at a 

Then the villein had to do homage to his lord, humbly 
kneeling and holding up his hands together between those of 
his lord, and professing that he did become his man from 
that day forth of life and limb and earthly honour. 

All these observances were in a sense badges of servitude, 
though the serf, or neat, as he was called, from the Saxon term 
geneat, was by no means a slave, and could not be sold as a 
beast or chattel, and was capable by manumission and 
purchase of attaining to the status of a freeman. Any 
apparent cases to the contrary are deceptive. 

When men and their families are spoken of as being sold, 
it is only as being attached to the land that this term of sale 
is to be understood. The land and its resident serfs go to- 
gether, and when the one is handed over, the other goes with 
it. At the conquest no doubt a large body of slaves remained 
in England, but at the death of Edward I. few of the class 

Yet no one would assert that the villein or serf of the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries was anything like the freeman 
who owned his acres on the manorial estate, and paid a fixed 
rent, and was subject only to military service and the oath of 
fealty. We have to wait till the end of the 13th century 
before we can find the state of the villein so far improved, that 
instead of holding his land, and doing his work at the will of 


the lord, he is subject only to the customary duties and laws of 
the manor. 

Let us inquire how these villagers were housed and 
clothed, fed and paid, and what kind of service they were 
called upon to perform. 

First as to the sort of dwellings they occupied. There 
was not much difference between the houses of the labourers, 
called variously cottars and bordars, and those of the farmers 
or villeins. Most of the cottages were built of posts, wattled 
and plastered with clay or mud, a few bundles of reed or rush 
from the common fen or moor supplying the thatch. Of 
course there was no boarded floor, much less a chimney, which 
was a convenience unknown even in the castles of the lords. 

Two cottages, we are told by Professor Rogers, were put 
up by the Fellows of Queen's College, Oxford, in 1306, for the 
shepherd and swineherd, and cost the total of twenty shillings, 
the carpenter being paid 5/8, and the materials costing 14/4. 
We must, however, remember that twenty shillings of those 
days must be multiplied by twelve to bring it up to present 

They had only one room, sometimes divided by a hurdle 
to keep off the sheep, cow, pig, or poultry from the children. 
The poet Barclay, of Ottery St. Mary, Devon, in his Eclogues, 
makes Corydon, the bucolic swain, say : 
" The tempest blows, 
Drive we now our flocks 
Into our poor cottage." 

And later on we find that the rustic swains lay huddled 
together in the rushes and litter, "Pleasant and hot." The 
dirt and filth of these hovels must have been inexpressible. 
Their occupants must have been only too glad on the first 
break of dawn to fly to the open fields from the torments by 
vermin which they endured during the night. 

Shakespeare gives us a glimpse of this nuisance when he 
makes his second carrier at the inn at Rochester say : "I 
think this be the most villainous house in all London Road 
for fleas, I am stung like a tench," and when his first carrier 



replies : " Like a tench, by the mass, there's neer a king in 
Christendom could be better bit than I have been since the 
first cock." 

These miserable shanties were often erected by the 
people themselves. Some such class of cottage was still 
extant in this parish within the memory of the oldest people. 
It was on the site of Fred Mine's present house, and was 
occupied by Samuel Treasure. There is a tradition here of a 
custom which prevailed, that if a man could put up a house 
between sunset and sunrise, or vice versa, and boil his pot upon 
the hearth, no one could turn him out. This undoubtedly 
was the custom on the Duchy of Cornwall estate, which 
closely adjoined Holcombe. It was never recognised in law, 
and Lords of Manors often protested against it. The houses 
in Coleford Street seemed to have been originally built by 
squatting miners in this rough and ready way. 

Baring Gould tells us a charming story in his " Idylls of 
Dartmoor," of a poor young couple who, in spite of the jeers 
of the farmers because they had no house to live in, had the 
banns published the third time on Sunday, and on the Monday 
before sunset had a shanty built for them by the united efforts 
of their fellow labourers, with planks, furze, turf, and other 
rough materials from the commons. Here they lit their fire 
and boiled their pot that night, and so conservative were the 
customs of the Duchy, that they were left undisturbed to 
spend their honeymoon and the rest of their lives in this Dart- 
moor home. 

But as the narrator says : " Jolly Lane Cot " was the 
last instance of this ancient custom being put into force. We 
hear of the same thing prevailing in Hampshire by the old 
" Key-hole " custom there. Mr. T. H. Shaw, in the " Anti- 
quary," 1888, tells us that if a squatter on a common, in part 
of the New Forest, could build a house or hut, generally of 
turf and wood, in one night, without observation, and get his 
fire lit before the morning, he could not be turned out or made 
to pay any rent. The strange franchise called " The Pot- 
walloper " is a kind of parody of the same custom. According 


to it, the right of voting in some places depended on the mere 
capability to boil a pot, and the possession of a hearth with 
fire upon it. Sometimes to establish this right a kind of 
chimney was erected in a field or even in the street. This, 
indeed, was a species of manufacture of fictitious voters. 
There were such " Potwallopers " in Taunton in the last 

The farmers had houses only a shade larger and better. 
They were built upon a frame of boards, spaces being lathed 
and plastered within and without, or filled with clay kneaded 
up with chopped straw. They slept above under the thatched 
but unceiled roof, which was reached by a ladder or rude stair- 

The bacon rack was fastened to the timbers above, and 
the walls were garnished with agricultural implements. A 
plank, fixed on movable trestles, formed the usual table, a 
rough bench, two or three stones or blocks of wood, supplied 
the place of chairs. The poorer sort slept on bundles of fern,, 
and the cloak or cassock of the ploughman was his counter- 
pane at night. Soap was a luxury which he could rarely 
afford, as it was a penny-halfpenny a pound, and two pounds 
of it would swallow up his wages for a day. Chimneys, as I 
have said, were unknown. A rushlight was the only illumi- 
nant, the hard fats from which candles were made being four 
times as dear as the meat of animals, and a pound of candles 
costing nearly a day's work. The floor of the home was filthy 
and the surroundings filthier still. The dung heap stood 
close to the door, and streams from it in rainy weather ferti- 
lised the lord's meadows, as he intended it should be. For 
these houses the tenants paid only a small rent, after the first 
fine on entry, but they had to keep them in strict repair. In 
later days the farm buildings, with the labourers' houses, 
were built round a square for safety's sake, and the farmer 
was allowed to carry a cross-bow to shoot the wolves and 
other animals who prowled round about. 

The Manor House of the 14th century was still small and 
comfortless. It consisted chiefly of a 7 Jarge room open to the 


roof, the earth itself being the only floor. The fire was in the 
centre of the room, and the smoke escaped as best it could 
through a hole in the roof. Separated by a passage from this 
room, which was the common dining room and bed chamber 
for the men-servants, was sometimes a kitchen or larder, and 
in addition to this a cellar, dug out in the basement. 

As cooking was frequently carried out in the open air, and 
cooking utensils were part of a traveller's lugguge as he passed 
from one Manor House to the other, a permanent kitchen was 
not indispensable to a house. In the 15th century the Manor 
Houses were a little larger and more convenient, one or two 
rooms were added, and the house was called a hall. A 
"solar" or Parlour for a retiring room was added, and the 
bedroom above was partitioned off to make an additional 
room or two. The head of the family slept with his wife 
at the top of the stairs, and the family passed through his 
room to their chambers. They wore no night garments, 
but went naked to bed. Curtains, however, were used for 
decency's sake, and the darkness saved the situation. Servants 
slept downstairs in the hall, which was strewn with rushes. 

These Manor Houses were always built facing north-east, 
as they thought the east wind brought with it serene weather, 
and the north wind was held to be a preservative from cor- 
ruption. They shunned the south, as being sickly, and the 
west as boisterous. 

Tusser says : — 

"The south as unkind, draweth sickness too near, 
The north as a friend maketh all again clear." 

Shakespeare refers to this when he puts into Calaban's 
mouth the curse : — 

" The south-west blow on ye and blister you all o'er." 

Charles Kingsley attributed the robust and hardy physical 
constitution of the English nation to being so much subjected 
to easterly winds. The east wind was held responsible for the 
political opinions of the people of East Anglia by a clergyman 
of that district with whom I was acquainted in former days, 


the Rev. W. Penny, Rector of Dersingham. He was once 
dining with our late King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, 
at Sandringham, and being asked by him to tell the Archbishop 
of Canterbury why that district in Norfolk was so full of 
Radicalism, his answer was : " On account of the east wind, 
sir." " How so ? " said the Prince. " Because," said Mr. Penny, 
" it makes so many non-resident landlords, and leaves the 
people so much in the hands of the local agitators." The writer 
remembers another wind more unpleasant by far than the 
east wind, and that was the wind which roared down the 
chimney. This was in the Isle of Purbeck, where they said 
they had five winds — north, south, east, and west, and one 
down the chimney. But unpleasant winds are not confined 
to England, in fact very much the reverse, as everyone knows 
who has suffered from the effects of the Mistral and Sirocco 
on the shores of the Mediterranean and the Bees in Switzer- 

Such being the dwellings of the people in those days, 
what was their income and the nature of their daily food ? 

To take the small farmer or husbandman first. Before 
the Black Death in 1349 n ^ s position was fairly good as things 

His aggregate income, as Professor Rogers says, would 
be about £4 annually (equal to £48 now-a-days), and this, 
with the cheap rate of provisions, would suffice for the main- 
tenance of himself and family. 

But he must be a very frugal man, and the fare he had 
to live upon was coarse and unwholesome. During winter, 
when the cattle were salted down, almost the only food within 
reach of the people was salted fish, such as cod, conger, ling, 
hake, sturgeon, sprats and eels. As sea fishes could not be 
carried far inland, they were baked in pasties, by which 
their staleness was disguised. There were no vegetables 
to be had. 

We owe it to the Dutch that leguminous bulbs were 
afterwards brought into England to feed cattle and men 


Then we must also take into account the fact, that poor 
as the husbandman was, he was kept poorer still by being 
called upon to pay heavy rates, taxes, and subsidies. 

The first record of this subsidy is found in the exchequer 
rolls relating to Holcombe, in 1327. Varying amounts were 
levied upon the impoverished peasants and labourers almost 

After this date the same exaction went on, almost con- 
tinuously to 1377, when the poll-tax was instituted for the first 
time. This was one groat for every one above the age of 14 
years. This was succeeded by a graduated poll-tax in 1379. 
In 1381 on occasion of the latter levy, the discontent of the 
people burst forth, being fanned into flame by the preaching 
of the Priest John Ball, and culminated in the insurrection 
under Wat Tyler, which prevented any renewal of the 
obnoxious tax. 

Except as a graduated tax it was only resorted to on rare 
occasions in after years. The subsidies were themselves 
almost as intolerable, being levied with great strictness on all 
classes, however poor, and almost successively every year. 

A fifteenth on the rural, and a tenth on the urban popula- 
tion, that is a tax of 1/4 and 2/- in the pound levied on all the 
movable possessions of the tax-payers, would be considered 
excessive at the present or at any other time. 

The next general impost we hear of is the obnoxious 
shipmoney levied by James I, and still more vexatiously by 
Charles I. 

After this, in 1660, we hear of a rate called the " hearth 
penny," levied upon all houses except cottages, which in 1688 
was valued at £200,000 a year. 

The excise duty was the next method of taxation resorted 
to as a substitute for the poll tax and exchequer lay subsidy. 

A heavy tax, euphemistically called a " benevolence," 
had been levied from the days of the Plantagenet kings for 
their foreign wars, but this fell chiefly upon the opulent 
merchant princes and monastic bodies, and did not affect the 
agricultural and labouring classes. 


Besides these state taxes, all sorts of manorial rates were 
thrown upon the shoulders of the village folk. 

Some were in lieu of forced services. Such, for instance 
was " Ward Penny," in lieu of the duty of keeping watch and 
ward for the property of the lord and that of the village com- 
munity ; another was the "bedrip silver," in lieu of reaping at 
harvest-tide, others were such as " Woodrent," " Sharpenny," 
" Seg Silver," " Pond Silver," " Park Silver," which were 
severally commutation fees for exemption from the services 
of carting wood, spreading manure, cutting sedge and reeds, 
keeping up the mill ponds, walls, and repairing the fences round 
the park. 

Then there were rents in lieu of food provision for the 
lord's table ; such was " barlick silver," in lieu of barley ; 
" fish silver " or " haring silver," in lieu of providing salt fish 
for the lord's table in Lent. " Malting Silver " and " Ale 
tots," paid instead of the supply of malt and ale ; " Lok 
Silver," a commuted rent instead of the usual cock and five 
hens, and two loaves, supplied the lord at Christmas ; " Honey 
Silver," " Flax Silver," and " Wax Silver," compositions in 
lieu of the tribute of Honey, Flax and Wax, which had been 
customary from earliest times. 

One more interesting rent in commutationjof purveyance 
must be mentioned, this was the " Huntene Silver," levied 
especially in Gloucestershire as a substitute for the ancient 
obligation of providing food, lodging, and provender for the 
lord and his retinue, horses and hounds, whenever he came to 
the manor hall upon one of his hunting expeditions and 

The Church, too, took its full share apart from the tithes 
from the needy peasants. Peter's Penny, or " Rome Scot," 
was a general imposition. " Light Scot," " Soul Scot," 
" Plough Silver," were taxes swept into her coffers severally 
for lights and mortuary fees, and " Smoke Penny," called 
also smoke silver, paid to the ministers of divers parishes as a 
modus in lieu of tithe wood. Possibly, however, this infliction 
was only another name for Peter's Pence, as we read in the fol- 



lowing entry in a late document : "To the summes tor Peter's 
pence or Smoke farthings some tyme due to the Antichrist 
of Roome, Xd." 

What more need be said to show how grievous were the 
burdens thrown upon the shoulders of the labouring classes 
in those early manorial days ? 

People talk about the hardships of indirect taxation in the 
present day. What are they compared to all this ? 

The existing exchequer lay subsidy rolls for this parish 
start from the year 1327. The names of payees and amounts 
they paid are as follows : — 

De Adam Le Knight . . 

Waltero Le Knight 

Johanne atte Wode 

De Willelmo Russell . . 

Thomas Le Berghe 

Willelmo Knight 

Johanne Fabro de Cherlton 

Thome Upedownne 

Thoma Furcerel 

Thoma de Sancto Vigore 

Waltero de Folkeland . . 

Summa XX Villate Predicta 
We have another in 1333, as follows : — 

" Edward III." Tenth and fifteenth, 
De Walter Kyng de XV. bonorum suorum 
De Juliana Luzefote . . 
De Waltero Knight 
De Adam Knight 
De Waltero Atte Bergh 
De Gunilda Richeman 
De Thoma Forstel 
De Johanne Atte Wode 
De Willelmo Knight . . 

Summa Xs. lid. 

. Xlld. 

. IXd. 

. VId. 

. Vlld. 

. VId. 

. VId. 

. lis. 

. lis. 

. Xlld. 

. XVIIId. 

. Xlld. 
XIs. Illld. 











At a later date, A.D. 1546, we have 

Thomas Plentye . . . . . . . . 3/4 

Henricus Marchaunt . . . . . . 3/4 

Johanna Witcombe . . . . . . . . 3/4 

A.D. 1571. Elizabeth. 
Decenna de Holcombe. 

Thomas Addins in terris, viii.Li-pro subs., xiiis. iiiid. 
Simonus Wolforde in terris, xxs.-pro subs., iis. viiid. 
Johannes Wytcombe in terris, xxs.-in subsidio, ii/viii 
Johanna Taylor in terris, xxs.-pro subsidio, ii/viii 
Summa decenna predicta pro subsidio, xxs. iiiid. 
In A.D. 1581. 23 Elizabeth's reign. 
Elizabeth Adams . . . . . . IX. 

Simondus Wolforde . . . . lis. VHId. 

Johanne Witcombe . . . . Us. VHId. 

Johana Tayler . . . . . . lis. Vllld. 

In 1597. 39 Elizabeth. 

Willelmus Raques . . . . Xs. Vllld. 

Johanne Witcombe . . . . IIIIs. 

Johanne Wolford . . . . . . IIIIs. 

Johanne Elford . . . . . . IIIIs. 

A.D. 1621. James I. 
Decenna. Holcombe. 

Gregorie Heppislye in terris . . ii.Li. iis. viiid. 

John Witcombe in terris . . . . i.Li. is. iiiid. 

Elynor Wolford in terris . . . . i.Li. is. iiiid. 

Edward Greene in terris . . . . i.Li. is. iiiid. 

Summa Decenna, Pro Subsidio, vis. viiid. 
A.D. 1628. Charles I. 
Decenna. Holcombe. " 

Gregorie Hippesley in terris . . . . ii.Li. xvis. 

John Moore in bonis . . . . . . hi. Li. xvis. 

William Witcombe in terris . . . . j.Li. viiis. 

Richard Taylor in terris .. .. j.Li. viiis. 

Elnor Wolford in terris. . . . . . j.Li. viiis. 

Summa Decenna Pro Subsidio, ij.Li. vis. viid. 
This was probably the obnoxious ship-money. 


A.D. 1660. Charles II. 

Payments in accordance with the act for the speedy 
provision of money for the disbanding the forces of this 
kingdom, both by land and sea. 

Holcombe. ) 04 : 06.100 ( Wm. Witcomb, Sen. 

Reed, in Money. * 04 : 06.100 * Wm. Witcomb, Jun. 

There were also famines from time to time, which must 
have further diminished the incomes of the agricultural folk. 

The worst occurred in the years 1316, 1351, 1438, 1527, 
and 1595. 

Wet seasons were, of course, more prejudicial to the 
farming interest than they are now, because so much more 
land was under tillage for corn, and sunshine was needed to 
ripen it. The price of salt was a sure index of the character 
of the seasons, as it was evaporated by sunshine, and was, 
consequently, scarce in wet seasons. 

In 1316 we are told the wet was incessant, the corn never 
ripened, and a pestilential murrain destroyed not only cattle, 
but also geese and poultry, and even bees, and the whole 
atmosphere was tainted with noisome, odours of pestilence. 
In such times the small farmer must have suffered greatly, 
being only just able to hold his own in good seasons. 

After the Black Death his position was rather better 
than worse, as he found his own labour and hired none, and 
could hire himself and his children out at the enhanced 
rate of wages. This lasted till about 1520. Then evil 
days came, owing to the extravagance of Henry VIII., and 
the debasement of the currency. And none suffered more 
during this period than the agricultural labourer. It was the 
worst time he had through all the centuries till the 18th. 

Up to the date of the Black Death, 1348, the daily wage 
of an agricultural labourer was 2d. for men, id. for women, Jd. 
for boys. Besides this he could find time to cultivate his own 
curtilage, and to keep a cow and goose on the common. 
Altogether, with the earnings of a wife and two children, 
his income would not be less than £4 a year. After 
the Black Death his wages all round rose at least 50 


per cent., owing to the great scarcity of hands. In 
fact, he held the whip over his employers. Women's labour 
was largely in demand ; the men, indeed, had to work hard 
enough, but the women could have found no time to sit still 
and weep. Indoors they had to weave the husband's coats 
from the fleeces of the flocks, and to spin his linen under- 
clothing from the flax grown on the farm. Besides this, the 
women (more especially of the labouring class) were occupied 
with coarse work in the fields, such as dibbling beans, making 
hay, assisting the sheep shearers, filling the carts with manure, 
but especially in reaping stubble, after the ears of corn had 
been cut, binding and stacking the sheaves, thatching ricks 
-and houses, watching in the fields to prevent cattle straying 
into the corn, scaring, with slings and stones, birds from the 

Then came the Statute of Labourers, passed to coerce the 
labourer to reduce his demands and take the same wage as 

This statute enacted that the same rate of wages should 
be taken by the labourer as he had received in the 20th year 
of the king's reign (Ed. III). The jurisdiction of offences was 
removed from the Manor Courts to Courts of Sessions. Bona 
fide labourers were bound to serve in husbandry whoever 
might require their services, on pain of being imprisoned for 
40 days for first offence, 3 months second, and 6 months third. 

Employers were to be prosecuted if they paid more than 
the fixed wage in order to secure the services of the labourer. 

The wages of an agricultural labourer, man, woman, or 
child, were to be paid by a daily, not weekly, reckoning, so as 
to prevent labourers making any claim for payment for 
labour on the festivals of the church, or on half holidays or 
eves of their holidays. 

Tusser seems to allude to this provision when he says : — 
" Pay weekly thy servant his household to feed, 
Pay quarterly to buy as they need." 

The act was a most tyrannical one. No account was 
taken of the high price of food and every other necessity. The 


labourer was at the mercy of the J. P., and his employers were 
not allowed to give him any help in sickness or poverty, lest 
they should be thought to bribe him. 

The act also was a most arbitrary interference with the 
natural law of demand and supply. 

These acts were frequently renewed up to the reign of 
Richard III., when the labourer seemed to have won the day, 
as no further legislation was set in action against him. 

From this date the usual labour wages of the farm 
labourer, ploughman, the mower, shearer, thresher, and 
thatcher, without food, was about 3d. per day for men, 2d. 
for women, with an increase in time of harvest. The artisan, 
such as the blacksmith, mason, carpenter, plumber, and 
wheelwright, who in those days supplied labour only, not 
material, and who before the Black Death could earn £4 7s. 6d. 
a year, found his condition bettered to an equal extent of 
50 per cent. 

In fact the 15th century, and first quarter of the 16th, 
were the Golden Age of the English labourer, if we interpret the 
wages which he earned by the cost of the necessaries of life, but 
as I have said, this condition became much darker in the latter 
•part of the 16th century. This is testified to by Sir T. More, 
who wrote at that date. He declares that " the state and 
condition of the labouring beasts may seem much better and 
wealthier, for they be not put to such continual labour, nor 
their living is not much worse ; yea, to them much pleasanter, 
taking no thought in the mean season for the time to come." 

" But these seely poor wretches," he says, " be presently 
tormented with barren and unfruitful labour, and the re- 
membrance of their poor indigent and beggarly old age 
eateth them up, for their daily wage is so little that it will not 
suffice for the same day, much less it yieldeth any supplies that 
may daily be laid up for the relief of old age." 

There were other features of the lot of our labouring 
classes in those days which we have not considered. These 
do not tend to alleviate his trials, but rather the reverse. 

For one thing, he was only half clothed, and must have 


shivered with cold through the winter months. The winter 
and the summer were in violent contrast. The former was 
dark and cheerless, and life could only have been tolerable by 
the prospect of living to see the glory and freshness of the 
spring. It was "ona May morning on Malvern Hills " when 
the poet, Langland, dreamt his happy dream of the village 
gathering in the open fields. The earliest English poetry is of 
the springtide and of its joys. 

The clothing also of the period was quite insufficient to 
keep out the winter cold. Our poor Holcombe villagers must, 
to use an old Somerset expression, have been " woefully 

From Shakespeare we learn that : "A big top was kept 
in every village to quicken the blood of the people by whipping 
it." The better class of villein wore a kind of cassock, while 
a garment of sackcloth made from hemp, clothed the labourer's 
body. His legs were bare, while shoes and sandals 
completed his attire. But the cloth of which his clothing 
was made was coarse and full of hairs, and, as Professor 
Rogers says, " a man in an English winter might as 
well have been dressed with a hurdle as far as warmth was 
concerned, as with English wool." 

Nor could he get much heat into his blood from the food 
he was able to procure. Probably the poor tasted little 
wheaten bread, and what they did get was of a very inferior 
kind, either what was called cocket bread or simmel bread, 
but not the bread made of finest wheat which was called 

We hear of barley cakes being eaten, and of rye bread, 
and there was a white pea which was certainly used for human 

They sometimes fed also on oats, but it was a superior 
kind to that given to horses. So Holinshed says the proverb 
is true that " Hunger first setteth his foot into the horse 

We are also informed, on good authority, that the 
peasantry fed largely on pulse, field beans, and vetches. A 


Florentine traveller in England, writing in the middle of the 
16th century, says : " Puddings and cheese are everywhere 
forthcoming," but that the Englishman saved so little that it 
. was barely sufficient for their consumption. Mr. Denton 
says : " Not only was the food of the people of inferior quality, 
but it was also unwholesome and unpalatable. The large part 
of the year they were dieted upon fish. Two herrings a day 
was often all the food the labourer got except bread stuff. 
Sheep that died from natural causes were also given to the 
farm labourers in a spirit of false economy. 

Laws had to be specially enforced against using rotten 
pork or salmon for food, and corrupt meat was confiscated. 
This wretched diet, coupled with the fact of the uncleanli- 
ness of their surroundings, predisposed them to all kinds of 
loathsome diseases. 

Scrofula and scurvy were rife among them ; leprosy was 
very prevalent in the 13th and 14th centuries. Lazar houses 
abounded in the land ; they stood at the entrance of nearly 
all our towns, but the numbers afflicted were so many that 
they could not be housed, and the rest lined the high roads 
and begged for charity. A form of typhoid fever was very 
prevalent. Ague, too, was largely engendered by the poisonous 
damp rising from the fens and bogs before the land was drained. 
Even up to a late date the chemists at Langport and other 
towns situated above the moors of this county, did a roaring 
trade on Saturday nights in laudanum drops, bought to drive 
away the ague. 

It is needless to say that small-pox found a ready prey in 
the towns and villages of mediaeval England. No wonder, 
then, that the death roll was so high, and that the loss of infant 
life was so great. More people we are assured live beyond 70 
now than those that lived beyond 40 then. When the great 
plagues came, which succeeded each other so frequently from 
the 14th to the 18th century, they nearly decimated the 
population. The Black Death was the first of these, and 
arrived in this country in 1348. 

" The ravages of this epidemic," says Mr. Denton, ' were 


so terrible that the evidences of its destructiveness occur in 
episcopal registers, in monastic chronicles, and in town 
records, as well as in the statute book and in the rolls of 

In many parts of England the number who survived 
hardly sufficed to bury those who were dead. This is no 
figure of speech ; the nearest relatives shrank from the 
offices of charity and affection. Whole houses perished 
entirely. Parishes were depopulated, villages and hamlets 
disappeared and hardly left a trace behind of their former 
existence. More than half the population of England died 
during this terrible year. 

The Black Death, says Professor Rogers, is supposed 
to have had its origin in the centre of China, in or 
about the year 1333, and is reported to have been accom 
panied by various phenomena in the earth and atmosphere 
of a very novel and destructive character, such as were 
noticed long before in the plagues which visited Athens, 
Rome, and Northern Europe. It first attacked Europe 
in Cyprus at the end of the year 1347, and was accompanied 
by great convulsions of the earth, and by atmospheric 
disturbances. It appeared in Italy, especially at Florence, 
where a company of noble ladies and gentlemen migrated to 
escape it into the country, and lived a kind of pastoral life, 
enlivened by plays and romantic tales, under the direction 
of the poet Boccaccio. 

Then it appeared at Avignon, where at that time the 
Papal Court was held. 

In August, 1348, the disease made its appearance at 
Weymouth, and the other sea-ports of Dorsetshire, and 
slowly travelled westwards and northwards through Devon 
and Somerset. It is supposed to have been propagated in this 
district through vessels touching at Bridgwater and Clevedon 
and Bristol, and its course can easily be traced, says Abbot 
Gasquet, between Bath and Wells, by the vacancies of the 
benefices of the various villages on its track. 

It appeared at Bath, January, 1349, an d its route was. 


through Freshford, Hardington, Holcombe, Kilmersdon, 
Cloford, Babington, and Doulting, says the same authority. 

The Bishop of Bath and Wells remained at his Manor of 
Wiveliscombe till the worst was past in May, 1349. Thither 
came the clergy in numbers to receive their letters of institu- 
tion to the various vacant benefices. Glastonbury lost 40 
monks, and the Abbots of Athelney and Muchelney both died 
of it. The Black monks of the Priory of Bath lost half their 
number. The Bishop of Bath and Wells most sensibly re- 
mitted the canon insisting upon priestly absolution, and per- 
mitted laymen, and even women, to receive confession, and 
allowed Deacons to administer the Holy Communion, and 
that, where the sacrament of Extreme Unction could not be 
administered, faith should suffice for its reception. 

Plague stones are found in various places, which testify 
to the terrible ravages of the disease. These stones were 
situated outside an infected village, and had little cups 
excavated in them. These were for holding vinegar to dis- 
infect the money placed in them for payment for the neces- 
saries of life carried and left by their side. 

The tradition is that Holcombe suffered so severely that 
the remnant of the village migrated elsewhere to some 
higher place on the Mendips. We find that several new 
appointments to the living were made between 1349 an d 

The plague visited England many times afterwards ; one 
of the worst visitations was in 1665, when London felt its 
ravages so severely. It visited our neighbourhood again in 
1625, and an inscription was once to be found upon the altar 
rail of Kilmersdon church commemorating their exemption 
from it. 

The sweating sickness broke out in Henry VII's army 
during its march to London after the battle of Bosworth. 
The chroniclers of the time traced its origin to the Welsh 
mountains. The disease was a violent inflammatory fever, 
accompanied by great prostration, general disorder of the 
stomach, great oppression of the brain, a lethargic sleep, and a 



profuse fetid perspiration, which flowed from the patient in 
streams. So deadly was it, says Holinshed, that not one in a 
hundred recovered. The course of the disease was very brief, 
the crisis being over in a day and a night. It attacked robust 
and vigorous people more frequently than the weak, and went 
from east to west through the kingdom. 

Two Lord Mayors and six Aldermen were victims to the 
disease in a week. 

This plague had various names. It was called swat, new 
acquaintance, alias stoups, knave, and know-thy-master. It 
was also called the posting sickness that posted from town to 
town, and " Stop-Gallant," for it spared none, for " they were 
dancing in the Courts at nine o'clock that were dead at eleven 

And when these various forms of disease attacked the 
people they had little chance of pulling through them. The 
doctors could not help them much. Medical knowledge and 
surgical skill were at their lowest ebb. Right up to the 16th 
century doctoring was of no good, for it was based upon 
wrong principles. Even when the College of Surgeons was 
established in Henry VIII's reign, the chief qualification for a 
diploma consisted in a knowledge of astrology. The cure of 
the patient was supposed to depend, not so much upon the 
efficacy of the surgeon's drugs, as upon the question of the 
invalid's planet being in the right quarter and ascendant, 
and the moon in the right age. Unless this was ascertained 
first, it was supposed to be useless to attempt to administer 

The healing art, in fact, was entirely empirical, a matter 
of divination, and the ordinary practitioners not much better 
than a set of quacks. Anyone who could spread a plaster was 
entrusted with the care of the wounded in those days. Only 
one surgeon accompanied the English army which fought at 
Agincourt. Cauterising wounds, especially arrow wounds, 
was much practised. 

Andrew Pari, surgeon to Francis I of France, always 
adopted the remedy of scarifying wounds caused by barbed 



arrow heads, and sucking out the poison with oil held in the 

Bleeding was generally used in all cases of fever. 

" Le Bloodletter " was a common name in those days ; 
he was also more generally called the leech. 

Such a man may have lived in our parish at Leech Ham, 
though I see it was also called Beach Ham. The name leech, 
in later times, was given to the horse doctor. 

It was part of the barber's work to bleed people. 

This, too, only a little later, was the age when 
itinerant drug sellers and herbalists reaped a golden 
harvest at every fair and feast-day in the land. They 
gulled the simple folk by their sham learning, their 
high sounding titles of honour, and their apparent disin- 

One would pretend to cure the ague by recommending 
the patient to sew up in fine linen and wear upon his breast 
this gibberish : — 

" Quare are fare, 
fare quare are, 
quare fare are." 

This the author found in the fly-leaf of an old Elizabethan 

Another pretended to cure the small-pox by wrapping 
up the sick man in red cloth. 

Another had a cure for the stone, which consisted in an 
ointment made of pounded roasted heads and wings of 
crickets and beetles steeped in oil. 

Another gave seven heads of fat bats as a specific for the 

Ben Jonson gives us as a specimen of the grandiloquence 
of this race of charlatans : — 

" O health, health, the blessing of the rich, 
The riches of the poor, 
Who can buy thee up at too dear a rate, 
Since there is no enjoying the world without thee." 

Having thus prepared the way, he would proceed to sell 


oyles, sovereign waters, amorous songs, love philters, and 
various charmed coins. 

" I saw one," said an eye-witness, " hold a viper in his 
hand, play with his sting and receive no hurt. He made us 
believe that the same viper was lineally descended from the 
identical viper which fastened on St. Paul's hand in the island 
of Melita, and which he shook off." 

But such quackery was not limited to Ben J orison's 
day. It has flourished almost up to the present. Even in 
the seventies of last century a cunning man used to hold an 
annual levee, called " Toad Fair," in the neighbourhood of 
Stalbridge in Dorset, when he sold out to crowds that thronged 
him the legs torn from the bodies of living toads, and placed 
in a bag, which was worn round the neck of the patient and 
counted a sovereign remedy for scrofula and the evil eye. 

To cure warts the receipt was to steal a piece of beef from 
a butcher's shop and rub the warts with it ; then bury it, and, 
as the beef rotted, the warts decayed. 

The cure for a viper's bite was as follows : — Cut a piece 
of hazelwood, and fasten a long bit and a short bit together 
into the form of a cross ; then you lay it softly upon the 
wound, and you say thrice, blowing out the words'aloud like 
one of the Commandments : 

" Underneath this hazelen mote 

There's a braggety worm with a speckled throat, 

Nine double' is he. 

Now from nine double to eight double, 

And from eight double to seven double, 

And from seven double to six double, 

And from six double to five double, 

And from five double to four double, 

And from four double to three double, 

And from three double to two double, 

And from two double to one double 

And from one double to no double, 
No double hath he." 

The old man who recounted this charm is reported after- 


wards to have said : " There, sir, if David had known that 
charm, he never would have wrote the verse in the Psalm 
about ' the adder that was so deaf that she would not hear the 
voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely.' I never knew 
that charm fail in all my life." 

The herbals of that day were full of receipts for balsams 
and cordials. One of these cordials, called " Manus Christi," 
is recommended by Dr. Turner, Dean of Wells, as a remedy 
for the fever. The receipt runs thus for the fever quotidian 
or daily fever. " Take the best aqua vitae ye can get, half a 
pound, put therein the whitest mary of walwurt that ye can 
get, two unces, let it stepe therein 3 days, and give the patient 
thereof to drink. But marke well if it would chafe him too 
much, then temper him the drink with a little other wyne or 
drink, and give him sometimes " Manus Christi.' " This 
was simply a gilded lozenge, composed of white sugar, rose 
water, and powder of pearls. This receipt is found in my 
earliest edition of Turner's Herbal of 1551. 

A curious case of the successful application of a quack 
remedy happened in the village of Holmwood, Surrey, in the 
year 185 1. It was related to the writer by a near relative 
living upon the spot. A boy, named Buckland, was seriously 
ill with whooping cough, and every remedy had failed, when 
they recollected the old cure, always infallible, and pulled one 
riair from the centre of the cross on a donkey's back, put it in 
paper, tied it on a string, and placed it round the child's back, 
who recovered and grew up to be a man and to leave a son, 
still living in 191 1. 

But happily the rustics had little time or money to 
consult leeches and herbals, and doctored themselves with the 
herbs and simples growing in their gardens, and in the ditches 
and on the common or by the copse side. Such remedies, at 
least, were harmless, and faith made them efficacious. 

Let us now consider what the work of the small farmer 
and labourer consisted in, and of what character it was. 

It was certainly heavy, burdensome, and vexatious. Its 
monotony, too, was excessive. There is no change in their 


experience or career or industry, from year to year, from 
generation to generation. But what strikes one most forcibly 
is the minuteness and exactitude with which all their com- 
plicated obligations were specified to the smallest tittle. 
Every variety of work was strictly given in detail, and its 
payment made subject to endless conditions. 

There is nothing large-minded or generous or open- 
handed about the arrangements. If a thing is given, some 
part is reserved, or some special exception made, which spoils 
the gift. The swine-herd, for instance, at Glastonbury 
received one sucking pig a year, but only the interior parts of 
the pig and the tails of all others slaughtered in the Abbey. 
The chief scullion had a right to all remnants of viands, 
but not of game, and to the feathers only and bowels of 

Again, another, when he feeds at the lord's hall, shall take 
with him a plate, mug, and napkin if he wishes to eat off a 
cloth, and he shall bring a faggot of brushwood to cook his 
food, unless he would have it raw. And if he have porkers, 
he can sell them at will before the Nativity of the Blessed 
Virgin, but after that day not at all. Nor can he marry his 
daughter to any except upon the lord's land, without licence, 
but upon the lord's land well. 

But the following extract from the Glastonbury Rolls for 
Longbridge Deveril will best illustrate the whole system, with 
all its pettiness, and closeness, minuteness of detail, and 
vexatiousness of conditions. 

" Ralph, son of Maud, holds one virgate of land, that is, 
30 acres, from the time of Thomas the Prior, and he renders 
5/-gafol rent per annum, and i6d. of gift for the larder, and he 
owes a ploughing which is called kirschet at the feast of St. 
John, 5 acres, and he should come with plough on St. John's 
eve to the lord's land, and at the feast of St. Martin he owes to 
plough 4 acres for corn, and to bring the seed from the lord's 
hall, and the hayward owes to sow the same, and the said 
Ralph to harrow the same ; and he owes to plough with his 
plough one acre for oates when it shall be commanded, and to 


bring the seed from the lord's hall as is aforesaid for the 4 
acres, and to harrow the said acres. 

" And he renders always on St. Martin's day for Kirkset 
(Churchscot) three measures as appointed in the lord's hall, 
one year of coarse wheat and the next of fine wheat if married, 
and if not, half Kirkset. And he owes for autumn service 
between St. Peter's Chains (a saint's day) and the feast of St. 
Michael every day except Saturday, whatever service the 
bailiff points out to him, to wit, if he should reap half an acre, 
and from the same to have one sheaf by strap (by a thong of 
a certain length), as appointed of old, except the first day of 
reaping, and he owes to plough at the lord's boon days (volun- 
tary days) one acre if he have his plough by himself, and if 
two or three join with him in the plough they ought not to 
plough more than the one acre. And he owes to wash and 
shear the Lord's sheep together with the others, and to have 
a cheese with the others in the lord's hall the same day ; and 
he owes to reap the lord's meadow and carry the lord's hay 
till it shall be all carried, and he ought to carry for the Lord 
Abbott, if so commanded, to Ditchet, or to Cranemere 
or to Witham and elsewhere within a circuit of 15 

" And he owes to do work, which is called Andwike, in the 
lord's hall, and he shall come in the morning and do as the 
bailiff commands him till terce, whether digging, fencing, or 
any other work. 

11 And if he owes to spread marl he shall bring 5 parcels 
per day and shall be quit ; and the lord shall draw the marl 
on to the marl pits. And if he bring manure as far as Blank- 
land in Roge Dyke (ditch) he shall go fifteen times in a day, 
and if he bring it over the water he shall go 15 times in two 
days ; and if at any time he be sick he shall be quit of all 
service for fifteen days. 

" And he owes to weed two days after dinner, and the 
third day to do the same at request. And when he threshes 
he should thresh three bushels by measure of wheat, and of 
oats 4 bushels ; and to have a pailful. 


This is all very burdensome, but one more instance on 
record is still more so. It applies to the same holding. 

" And if he reap the stubble he should reap one cartload 
and bring it to the lord's hall, and have one sheaf of the same 
stubble, and if he is reaping without a cart he should reap ten 
bundles, each bundle of two sheaves. And every feast day 
he should have that service diminished by one bundle until he 
come to five bundles, and then he shall stand at five bundles 
for that service. 

" And if any sheaf appear less than is right, it ought to be 
put in the mud, and the hayward should take hold of his hair 
above his ear, and the sheaf should be drawn through his arm, 
which, if it can be done without the soiling of his clothes or 
hair, it should be considered less than is right, but otherwise 
it shall be judged sufficient. 

" And if he owes to carry rods or fencing, he should carry 
once only in a day, and if he goes to the copse with his own 
cart he shall have a companion of a similar holding, and that 
shall be accounted for them the service of one day." 

It is needless to quote more ; this is sufficient to prove 
how vexatious, capricious, and petty were all the qualifying 
conditions, and elaborate and minute directions which 
characterised the system of work in those days ; and how far 
more liberal and straightforward and simple is the way in 
which farm labour is assessed and carried on and remunerated 

One common custom of the manors may seem to be an 
exception to this general rule of niggardly and suspicious 

There were special harvest services called boon-works, 
precarice, which were reckoned in theory at least to be freely 
conceded by the labouring classes, and to be as freely met 
with compensation by the manor lords. 

" Boon- work " was a kind of surplus demand, it exceeded 
the normal distribution of work, it was less rigidly and exactly 
defined as to time-limit and quantity. The population is 
supposed to be ready to help its lord beyond the customary 


duties imposed upon it. It sends its ploughs thrice or four 
times a year out of love, and only for the asking. This kind 
of ploughing, like all other work, is, of course, called by a 
specific name, lest there should be any mistake, it is " bene- 
earth." But after all it is not quite a voluntary concession, 
there's a quid pro quo, for it is a kind of return for liberty to 
use the commons and pasture for feed for the oxen composing 
the plough team. This rather takes the gilt off tLe ginger- 
bread as far as the voluntary ploughing is concerned. 

The harvest work may have been rendered from purer 
motives. Harvest was a time when all hard and fast rules 
and regulations must needs be modified to meet the exigencies 
of the case. 

Allowance must be made for the give and take principle 
to come in. The strictness of the bond of the pound of flesh 
must be relaxed. 

Hay must be made while the sun shone, and the crop 
must be garnered in before rain. This meant putting on 
additional hands, working overtime, and doing work outside 
the strict letter of the obligation. All the forces of the 
village must be strained to go through the work, and, in most 
cases, the entire population had to join in the work, with the 
exception of the housewives, and, perhaps, of the marriage- 
able daughters ; and they were at least supposed to do this 
voluntarily as a love work, by request, and not of rightful 
claim. And the lord is supposed also to meet them with as 
gracious a return. 

The landlord treats the harvesters to food at the " bene- 
feast " or love meal, in recognition of their bene work or love 
work for him. 

The more work they give him the more bountiful is his 

If the men come out only once they get their food and no 
drink ; these were called " dry requests." If they come out 
a second time, ale is served to them. The feast is a pre- 
carice cerevisice." 

The first is a " dry bedrip," the second a " wet bedrip." 


But it was not beer alone that could be got on such days. 
The mowers at Raneholm, in Essex, received, by custom, 
three quarters of wheat for baking bread and one ram worth 
1/6, and one piece of cheese of the second sort from the lord's 
dairy, and salt and oatmeal for cooking a stew, and all the 
morning milk from all the cows in the dairy, and for every 
day a load of hay. He may also take as much grass as he is 
able to lift on the point of his scythe. 

But still we observe that these seemingly gratuitous works 
of supererogation were something in the nature of a quid pro 
quo, and that the villagers protested strongly if any attempt 
was made to stint their provision at the harvest feast, and on 
the other hand, that the lord gave no more than he thought 
sufficient to carry out his contract and keep his workmen in a 
good humour. 

Much more was this the case with another apparent show 
of hospitality on the lord's part at the " leet ale " and " scot 
ale." The peasant with his family were invited to the lord's 
hall and regaled with good fare at the lord's table. But this 
was only a device for fleecing the villager with a smiling face. 
Everybody had to pay for his seat and food, and the greater 
part would have to sit below the salt and eat humble pie, that 
is, the "umbles," or coarsest parts (Latin umbilicus) of the 
viands on the table. These ales were a regular perquisite of 
the lord, all were bound to come, and he made a good penny 
out of the entertainment. 

The young men and the married came, we are told, on 
Saturday to drink at the Cunninghall at Glastonbury, on 
Sunday and Monday husbands and wives come and bring a 
penny, and young men on Sunday bring a half-penny. On 
Monday night the young men may drink without a fee if they 
are below the settle. The full Scot-ale should last three days, 
and a villein drank three such Scot-ales, one before Michael- 
mas, to which he went with his wife and brought 3d., and two 
after Michaelmas, at which he gave 2jd. The great marling 
feasts, held in the spring, after the manuring with marl, 
yielded to the lord as much as 20/-. 


These drinking bouts were frequent, and it was a good 
thing when they were forbidden. 

Now with all this constraint and drudgery, was it to be 
expected that the labouring classes should be always cheerful, 
peaceful and law-abiding ? A system of coercion like this, 
under a hard taskmaster's eye, would naturally lead to at- 
tempted evasion, law breaking, and licence. The records of 
the assize courts, sheriffs, tourns, and manor courts, abound in 
instances of greater or lesser offences, and their punishments. 
The great lords, with their numerous retainers, often 
committed high-handed offences, such as kidnapping rich 
heiresses, and obnoxious witnesses. 

By order of George, Duke of Clarence, in the reign of 
Edward IV., Mistress Ann Anketyl, Lady of the Manor of Cay- 
ford, near Frome, was, for the sake of her money, carried off in 
broad daylight to Warwick, a distance of 70 miles, and tried 
on the charge of poisoning Isabelle, his wife, and hanged at 
Nuton, in Warwickshire. On a petition made to Parliament 
her innocence was completely vindicated, and her property 
restored to the rightful heirs. 

Another grievous crime was committed in 1556, in the 
reign of Queen Mary, when the Lord Stourton did a certain 
Mr. Hartgill and his son to death, and had them buried in a 
cellar in a house in Kilmington, for which he was afterwards 
hung at Salisbury with a silken cord in deference to his high 

This murder is supposed to have been perpetrated, not at 
Kilmington, but at Ower Moigne, near Wool, in Dorset. 
According to Sir F. Treves, in his " Highways and By-ways 
of Dorset," Lord Stourton is said to have invited the Hart- 
gills to his house at Ower Moigne, and there " caused them to 
be knocked down with clubs," and then finished off by having 
their throats cut. They were then buried in a hole in the 
cellar 15 feet deep. But this places the murder a long way 
off from the site of its actual perpetration. It was un- 
doubtedly done at Kilmington, close by Stourton. Lord 
Orrery, in 1731, writes thus on the fly-leaf of the third volume 


of " Strype's Memorials," now in the writer's library. " In 
this book, and in this book only is the full and exact account 
of the murder of the two Hartgyls of Kilmington by Lord 
Stourton and his servants, A.D. 1556. Regnante Maria, Chap. 
48, from page 367 to page 373. I have seen the hole into 
which they were thrown. Mr. Hoare keeps a grate over it. 
It is not above 20 yards from his house." So says Lord 
Orrery, the friend of Swift and author of the translation of the 
letters of Pliny the younger. The account in " Strype's 
Memorials " is most detailed and realistic. 

These were exceptional crimes, accounted for by the 
unruly spirit of the great lords, who, with their servants and 
retainers, thought they could defy the laws and oppress the 
people. But killings, and maiming, arson, rape, and other 
breaches of the peace were also rife among the working 
classes. Murderous assaults were very frequent. 

Many other minor offences crowd the records of the 
sheriffs-tourns, and manor court rolls. Poaching, for 
instance, was very common, and counted a great offence. 
" Poaching," says Mr. Denton, " was not only a favourite 
sport, but also a profitable one to the peasantry and 
labourers, as purchasers preferred birds and ground 
game caught in a snare, to those mangled with arrows. The 
boast of an agricultural labourer employed in such work 
was, as Barclay tells us in his Eclogues : — 

" I can birdies kill. 
Mine arrow touches nought of them but the bill. 
I hurt no flesh nor bruise no part at all." 

The kind of arrow used was called a " bird bolt." 
Rabbits were greatly cherished and kept. There were 
large warrens in the 15th century. They were called gentle- 
man's game, and furnished a welcome addition to the tables 
of such as could afford them. 

" But rabbits were encouraged as much or more for their 
fur as for their flesh. The robe of the noble and judge, the 
hood of the scholar and monk, the mantle of the burgher's 
wife and the lady of the manor were trimmed or lined with 


the fur of the rabbit, and when it was worn bare it supplied 
materials for mattresses and pillows, and was passed off as 
swans down." 

To poach on a warren was punishable with three months' 
imprisonment, but every tenant could kill any rabbit or hare 
which left the warren and trespassed on his corn. The most 
grievous offence was to poach for venison in the lord's park or 
warren, and to refuse to stand when called upon by forester 
or parkers. Then a poacher might be slain with impunity. 

Poaching, however, had become a more serious offence 
before the 15th century, when it was not confined to isolated 
cases of individuals but was pursued by gangs of men, arrayed 
together to hunt the land and resist by violence all attempts 
to stop them. It was then made felony, and a statute pro- 
vided that no layman who had not land to the value of 40/- 
per annum, nor any clergyman who had not a living of £10 
a year, should have or keep any greyhound, hound, or other 
dog to hunt, nor use ferrets, heys, nets, hare pipes, nor cords 
or other engines to take or destroy deer, hares, conies, or other 
gentleman's game upon pain of one year's imprisonment, to 
be enquired of by the justices of the peace. 

This was in Richard IPs reign, 1390. The English grey- 
hound, alluded to above, was a fine breed of dog ; his 
ancestor was renowned, even in British days, when 
the animals were exported and sold abroad. The big 
British hounds were described by Pliny as strong enough 
to break the neck of a bull, ugly and somewhat noisy, 
until crossed with a Thracian breed, but nevertheless 
esteemed by the Roman sportsmen to be as useful as any 
hounds in the world. 

The Latin equivalent for the Celtic greyhound or vertrag 
was vertragus or vertraha or veltre. 

The same word for greyhound is found in the early Italian 
language. Dante in the Inferno, Canto I. says, " Infin che il 
veltro verra che la fara morir con doglia." That is, " Until 
the greyhound comes that will make her die with pain." By 
the greyhound is intended Can Grande Delia Scala, Lord of 


Verona, imperial vicar and patron of Dante, to whom he 
dedicated the Paradiso. 

Mr. Ferguson gives us a curious illustration of the sur- 
vival of language taken from this name of the greyhound. He 
says that we can trace the origin of the poor dog Tray from this 
old British name for a dog, " Vertrag," which is compounded 
of two words, " Tray," a runner, " Ver," swift. This may 
seem far fetched, but it has the support of Latin authors, as 
for instance, the poet Martial : — 

" Non sibi sed domino venatur vertragus acer 
Illaesum leporem qui tibi dente feret." 

In mediaeval England the same name was given to the 
greyhound in hunting hares, a special officer being called a 
veltarius, and one Bertram de Criol held the Manor of Selene 
in the county of Kent of the king, upon the condition of pro- 
viding a veltarius to lead three greyhounds when the king 
should go into Gascony, so long as a pair of shoes of fourpence 
price should last. 

The records of the Manor Courts and the hundred courts 
where lesser offences were tried, are full of instances of the 
infringement of the customary laws, and the shirking of 
work and breaking of the conditions upon which the tenants 
held their small holdings. For instance at the Babbington 
hundred court, held on the 14th day of October, 1489, it was 
recorded that the tithing man of Holcombe came with all his 
tithing (four men), and because the said tithing man did not 
furnish the survey of his tithing to that day, he is in mercy. 
And because Robert Hoskyns is a brewer, and has broken 
the assize of ale he himself is in mercy. And because William 
Smith and Walter Fray allow two ruptures (that is plots of 
land) at Hygh Lipeyatte to be broken and insufficient, the order 
is that they enclose them before the next court, under the 
penalty of each of them of twelve pence. Again in 1490, at 
the same court, because William Havell is a common butcher, 
" Carnifax," and sells meat under weight, he is also in mercy. 

Greater offences, coming under the heading of felony, or 
" bootless crimes," as they were called, were visited with 


terrible punishments. Rape was punished with death. 
Burglars were to be executed unless the goods taken were less 
than twelve pence in value, and the thief were a minor and 
poor and hungry. 

Arson was punished by burning. The same sentence 
was passed on sorcerers, heretics, traitors, and persons guilty 
of unnatural crimes. Mutilation also was the penalty for such 
offences, and to be hung, drawn, and quartered. The pro- 
cedure of justice seems to have' been very slow and very 
elaborate. We find an illustration of this in the church- 
wardens' accounts of Yatton in the year 1489. A certain 
Davy Gibbs stole the church goods, and an endeavour was 
made to bring him to justice. The course pursued was so 
complicated as to baffle the modern reader. He was pro- 
ceeded against at Bristol, Ilchester, and Wells. 

Three lawyers were engaged in the prosecution. The 
costs amounted to £60 of our money. A town clerk and 
his servants, the mayor and his sergeants, three counsel, 
two judges, a jury panel and a notary, are all concerned in the 
business. The result is not told us; we will hope he was let 
off after such a formidable prosecution. 

Itinerant justices held their court at various central 
towns in the county, but sometimes even at country 

Ilchester, the county town of those days, was the chief 
place where their sessions was held. It contained in the 
thirteenth century four or five churches, a hospital, afterwards 
the nunnery of Whitehall, and, of course, a large jail, which 
at one period was in a dilapidated condition, as we find 
several prisoners breaking out and flying to the monastery — 
Glastonbury I suppose — to take sanctuary. 

Courts were also held at Somerton, Shepton, Taunton, 
Milverton, Pederton, Paulton, and even at Binager and 
Kenemerdon (Kilmersdon). 

But by far the most important assize was that at Ilchester. 
Thither our people would trudge down, or perhaps ride by the 
Fosseway. They would find there a great throng of people and 


array of notables. The sheriff would be there, and the 
sheriffs of the previous eyres. 

We happen to have interesting records of one or two 
cases tried at these courts affecting Holcombe people. For 
instance, at Ilchester, on the quindene of Hilary term, in the 
year 1242, before Roger de Thurkilby and his brother 
justices, we find that Beatrice, wife of Andrew, is defendant 
in a case where Henry de Holcombe and Robert de Percy 
plead a covenant of the said Andrew, granting Robert 
de Percy, a villein, his liberty from bondage. This matter was 
afterwards amicably settled at Ilchester the same year. 
Andrew and Beatrice, of Stratton, acknowledged Robert de 
Percy to be a free man for himself and his heirs, and absolved 
him from all manner of servitude. And Robert and his wife, 
Juliana, conceded to Andrew and Beatrice a meadow in 
Stratton and half a furlong of land in the same ville lying 
towards the sun ; and Robert and Juliana agreed to render 
Andrew and Beatrice a pound of cumin at Michaelmas, and 
do the regal services which belonged to the land. 

It seems, however, that Robert de Percy had already 
fairly proved his case by producing a charter of his freedom 
granted to him by Humphrey de Sancto Vitoro (or rather 
Vigore), brother of the Lady Beatrice of Stratton. She and 
her husband denied that the charter had been given, and the 
sentence of the court had been that a jury was to try the case. 
This evidently induced the defendant to come to terms with 
the plaintiff and compromise the matter. 

Another interesting case, in which a Holcombe man was 
concerned, was tried at Shepton on the morrow of St. Laurence, 
1253. The same Andrew de Stratton, who must have been 
a rather litigious landowner and lord, had disseised, that is 
deprived, Henry de Holecum of his free tenement in Hole 
cumb, that is of one (cultura) culture of 12 acres, evidently a 
half virgate of arable land. Andrew came and confessed 
that the land belonged to Henry, but that he, the lord of the 
manor, had the right of commons upon it every second year 
when it lay fallow. This Henry denied, and said that Andrew 


had no right to claim any common on that land the year of 
fallow, and proffered a charter of Andrew to that effect. 
Andrew admitted that charter, but declared that in spite of 
it he had the right of common every second year. Henry 
said he, Andrew, never had rightful common there after the 
granting of the charter, but took it by force. 

The jurors said upon oath that after the making of the 
charter the said Andrew intruded upon the culture with his 
cattle by force and against the will of Henry, and depastured 
the herbage, so that Henry raised the hue and cry, wherefore 
they said that Andrew did unjustly disseise Henry. There- 
fore it is considered that he should recover his seisin, and 
Andrew is in mercy. He was amerced i mark. William de 
Carswell, one of the jurors, is in mercy for his contempt, 
because he withdrew after he had been sworn. Damage, 10/-. 
Henry de Holcombe himself seems to have been capable 
of the same unjust dealing about the land of his tenants. At 
Ilchester again, in 1242, he seems to have unjustly disseised 
Wilkin de Erdington, or Hardington, of his free tenement in 
Kilmersdon, that is, of two messuages and ten acres of land. 
Henry failed to appear, and his pledges are in mercy in con- 
sequence. However, he turned up later, and the matter is 
proved against him, and he is in mercy and pays a fine of one 
mark, with damages i2d. 

There was no police force, in the modern sense of the term, 
in those days. Instead, there was a petty constable in every 
parish called tything man, borsholder, or head borough. He 
had to attend the sheriff's tourn and the court leet, i.e., the 
local criminal court attached to many manors. Formerly the 
inhabitants of every place and the constables chosen by them 
were held fully responsible for every crime committed within 
their bounds, although the criminal had escaped. 

No justice's warrant was needed to justify the constable 
to raise the hue and cry. This hue and cry was passed on 
from one constable's boundaries to the next, and on and on 
till the culprits were apprehended. 

This old system of petty constables had a good 




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deal in its favour. This officer had a local interest and 
responsibility in bringing any offender to justice, and 
was the elected representative of the parish. The police- 
man of to-day may be a total stranger, without any local 
ties, and is set over men, to control and watch them, by 
an external authority. The early method was only abolished 
in 1842. A show of choice by the parish was kept up, but 
the justices in petty sessions had the right to select whom 
they pleased to serve out of the parish lists. 

There were, apparently, only two constables appointed 
for the hundred of Kilmersdon, and in 1616, at the Somerset 
Quarter Sessions held at Ilchester, Holcombe, Babington, 
and Radstock complained that though they were only one- 
fourth part of the hundred, yet they were called upon to 
furnish the half of the constabulary contingent. An order 
to satisfy them was granted. 

But as " all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," we 
should like to know how far our village ancestors were able 
to enjoy themselves in sports and pastimes. Games, no 
doubt, were indulged in, but somewhat surreptitiously, as 
they could only be legally played at the Christmas and other 
holidays, or to make sport for their masters. 

By the Statute VI, Henry IV, c. IV, labourers and 
servants playing at unlawful games were liable to imprison- 
ment for six days, and any magistrate or other officer neglect- 
ing to take notice of such offences were subject to a penalty. 

"It is prohibited to play at the tablys, tenyse, cardys, 
bowls, nor at none other unlawful game out of the time of 
Christmas, but for meat and drink, and in Christmas to play 
only in the dwelling-house of his mayster or in his presence." 
Handball, football, stowball, or stoolball, skittles or nine- 
pins, golf, cudgels, bear baiting, bull baiting, shuttle-cock, 
quoits, pitching the bar, were the principal games and sports 
practised by the citizens and peasants of the 16th and 17th 
centuries. Football was called " camping." Tusser writes 
recommending that football players should be allowed to 
play in the fields, to improve the grass. 



" In meadow or pasture to grow the more fine, 
Let campers be camping in any of thine. 
Which if ye do suffer when low is the spring, 
You gain to yourself a commodious thing." 

A game called Loggats is mentioned by Shakespeare 
(C/., Hamlet, Grave-digger, act V, scene I) : — 

" Did these bones cost no more the breeding but to play at loggats 
with them ? 
Mine ache to think on't." 

Stephens says " this is a game played in several parts of 
England, even at this time. A stake is fixed into the ground, 
those who play throw loggats at it, and he that is nearest the 
stake wins. I have seen it played in different counties at 
their sheep-shearing feasts, where the winner was entitled to 
a black fleece, which he afterwards presented to the farmer's 
maid to spin for the purpose of making a petticoat, and on 
condition that she knelt down on the fleece to be kissed by all 
the rustics present." 

Ben Jonson, in his " Tale of a Tub," says : — 

" Now are they tossing of his legs and arms 
Like loggats at a pear tree again 
To play at loggats, nine holes on ten-pins." 

It is one of the unlawful games enumerated in the Statute 
33, Henry VIII, and is called " a new and crafty game." 

Enforcements of the Statutes against playing with Le 
Cards and Le Tables are frequently met with on the court 
rolls, and in Alexander Barclay's " Ship of Fools," there is an 
illustration of the game, and his censure of the same is found 
in the following words : — 

" The damnable lust of cardes and of dice, 
And other games prohibited by the law, 
So great offences some fools doth entice, 
Yet can they not themselves therefrom withdraw, 
They count their labour and loss not worth a straw, 
Caring nought else therein is their delite, 
Till thrift and health from them be scaped quite." 

The game " ad pilam " was also strictly forbidden to the 
tenantry. This was some kind of game played with a ball. 


Some think it was football, but there is in " Old England " a 
picture of the game being played in Pall Mall. It consisted 
in striking a ball on the ground through a hoop suspended 
upon a post high in the air. Such a game was very popular 
in the old Italian cities, and the balls used gave the Medici 
their crest and rallying cry of " Palle Palle." The same game 
was played in James Ist's day, who recommended his son, 
Prince Henry, to play at it. Charles II was passionately fond 
of the game. He removed his playground for it from Pall 
Mall to St. James' Park. Pall Mall itself is a survival of this 
game, being so called from Palla, a ball, and Maglia, a mallet. 
The balls were of box wood, and were gradually attuned to 
the stroke of the mallet, and were afterwards rubbed with 
pelletory before being put away after use. 

Bowls was another game much in vogue in early days.. 
Every old place had its bowling green. It is interesting to 
find that even villagers could amuse themselves with it, from 
the record which Lord Hylton gives us of one Tobias Salmon, 
stating that in the reign of James I he had played bowls on 
Lipyeat Green. Bowling clubs are much in evidence, I am 
told by a Colonist, in New Zealand, and the game is played 
with great zest and scientific skill. 

The special reason, of course, why other games were dis- 
countenanced was because the authorities wished to promote 
the recreation of shooting at targets, both for the physical 
strength it gave, and for the sake of providing for the defence 
of the country. The laws about shooting were very stringent. 
Any master who allowed his servant, or any farmer who 
allowed his son under the age of seventeen to lack a bow and 
two arrows for the space of a month, for every default was to 
forfeit 3/4, or not less than twenty pence. Any man past 
seventeen years of age, and under fifty-nine, being able to 
shoot, who should not possess a bow and four arrows for a 
month, was fined 3/4, or not less than 6d. If butts were not 
made, the inhabitants were fined for every month's default, 
10/-, or not under 5/-. Any bowyer who, for every bow 
that was made of yew, did not make four other bows of elm, 


wych hazel, or ash, or other wood, was to be fined for every 
one lacking, 2od., or not under iod. For the arquebusiers, 
that they might learn the use of their weapons without abuse, 
some places were to be chosen and rented in the shire, to be 
so situated that none should travel far to them, and to be as 
near as possible to the market town, where the arms could be 
safely kept, stored, and preserved. It was also enacted that 
in every village a piece of ground, near the place where the 
armaments were stored, not less than 120 yards in length, and 
wide enough for assemblage, should be enclosed for shooting 
at marks. Butts of earth had to be provided, 20 feet broad 
and 16 feet high, having boards thereon a yard and a half 
wide, with black roundels and a white in the centre, at this 
the men standing comely levelled their pieces at from 75 to 
100 yards. 

The ranges were to be near at hand, and practise twice in 
the month, at which a Justice of the Peace was to be present, 
besides the regular officer. Bows and arrows were called 
artillery. The arquebus was also to be used, and practised 

A yard was the standard length of the English arrows 
used at Crecy, and Poictiers, and Agincourt. They were 
thicker than a man's little finger. Our archers slew 11,000 
at Agincourt. 

A flight of arrows, with their hissing sound, as they 
hurtled through the air, and their galling wounds, were more 
deadly than bullets of the days of the brown bess and muzzle- 
loader type. However, from a humane point of view, it was 
well they were discarded, as their poisonous rust caused 
gangrene and awful sores. The wound had to be deeply 
scarified, and then rigorously sucked by someone holding 
sweet oil in the mouth. 

The reason which underlay these strict restrictions as to 
other games than archery is as cogent now as then. History 
repeats itself, and it is quite as necessary now as it was in 
the 16th century to beware, lest in our inordinate addiction to 
sports, and games, we neglect to train ourselves in those habits 


of military discipline and those martial exercises which can 
alone fit men to defend their hearths and homes from any foreign 
invader. The danger of such invasion is a real one, and it is 
urgent that every patriotic citizen should know how to 
handle and use a rifle to the best advantage, and to qualify 
himself by regular drill to serve in arms should occasion 
require. Games and sports may promote health, activity, and 
strength, but they cannot make a man a soldier. Habits of 
discipline are required for this, which are not to be learnt in 
the cricket field or football ground. 

The National Service League, which advocates compulsory 
service, is unfortunately a necessary association at the present 
time since the voluntary system of providing for the defence 
of the country has somewhat broken down, and, indeed, is 
so inadequate to the purpose. 

Then there was the diversion of the court days, when all 
were summoned on pain of fine to the manor hall, to serve on 
the homage or court leet as the case might be. These were 
occasional breaks in the monotonous lives of the villagers, and 
probably provided as much amusement and excitement as the 
Radstock people seem to find at the petty sessions in the 
Victoria Hall, though these early courts would want the 
attraction of the voluble and often clever counsel, who attend 

At these early courts the scold would be presented for 
wrangling and probably sentenced to the " ducking stool " ; 
the miller who charged too high a toll for grinding the people's 
corn, would be presented and fined ; the baker or brewer 
who sold bread too dear, or ale too weak, would undergo the 
penalty of breaking the assize of bread and ale, and in his 
turn would have to pay a fine to the lord of the manor. 

There new tenants would come and pay the fine on entry, 
and be handed over the rod or virga entitling them to take 
possession. There also the reeve or hayward would make 
complaints against encroachments of cattle sent on the land 
before Lammastide ; of diseased cattle turned out on the 
common to the danger of other beasts ; of pigs allowed to go 


into the pasture grounds unringed ; of wood, thorns and furze 
cut beyond the needs and rights of the tenants. There again 
men would be had up for keeping dogs who had no land of 
their own, or who, in violation of manor law, had driven their 
sheep at night to lie on their own lands, and not on the lands 
of their lords, and who subjected themselves to a fine for not 
grinding their corn at the lord's mill, or selling bread which 
they had not baked at the lord's oven. These breaches of the 
manorial laws, and elections of the various officers of the 
manor, were the chief part of the business of these courts up 
to the close of the 15th century. 

Then there was, of course, the relaxation of poaching on 
the lord's demesne. The gentle art of tickling perch in the 
lord's pond occurs as one of the offences committed by a 
tenant in the proceedings of manorial courts quoted by Mr. 
Hone, and the record is too quaint to be passed over. The 
defendant's plea for mercy is as follows : — " Sir, for God's sake 
do not take it ill of me if I tell the truth, how the other evening 
I went along the bank of the pond, and saw the fish playing in 
the water, so lovely and bright, and for the great craving I 
had for a perch, I laid down on the bank of the pond, and with 
my hands only, and quite simply, took and carried away this 
perch, and I will tell thee the cause of my covetous desire, 
my companion, that is my wife, had lain in bed a whole month, 
as my neighbours who are here well know, and never eaten or 
drank anything she could relish, and for the craving to taste 
a perch she sent me to the bank of the pond to take one only, 
and that no other fish was taken or carried away, I am ready 
to do whatever thou dost award." 

The culprit is adjudged by the bailiff to be in the Lord's 

In later years poaching was carried on on a still larger scale 
by bands of lawless men. The Waltham blacks were a sample 
of the sort. They were so called from their rendezvous being 
in Waltham chase, and from their custom of blacking their 
faces for their nightly forage, to prevent detection and iden- 
tification. So strange was the infatuation that no young 


man was allowed to be possessed of either manhood or gal- 
lantry unless he was a " hunter," as the role of a poacher was 
euphemistically called. More than one gang of such reckless 
poachers and hunters traversed the country, robbing deer 
parks and fish ponds, and demanding money. They would 
brook no opposition, and shot dead a young keeper at 
Windsor who merely put his head out of a lodge window to 

Lord Dacres, of the North, in the reign of Henry VIII, 
shot, in St. Leonard's Forest, a keeper with whom he and a 
number of gay sparks like himself had come to words on one 
of these hunting frays. In spite of the most strenuous inter- 
cessions made for his pardon, he had to pay the penalty with 
his life. Cranborne Chase was the scene of great forest 
poaching frays, conducted by the gentlemen of the district 
upon a large scale, as a kind of brave diversion. They 
thought it no disgrace to poach at night, to drive the deer into 
verts and to enter into fierce combats with the keepers. Their 
weapons were of a most murderous kind. They used what 
was called a swingel, made of a hard, close-grained wood, the 
longer arm of which was 14 inches long, the shorter only 6, 
but which had a circumference in the widest part of 4.4 inches. 
The weight was 1 lb. 2 oz. 

Again, there was the diversion of the church festivals and 
feasts. Upon these occasions labour was prohibited, and all 
had to attend the church services, and amusements were 
provided as well as food for the gathered people, thus identi- 
fying the " Holy " day with the holiday. 

The Church claimed for the servile population to be free 
from the demands of service on the days set apart as holy 
days of obligation. These were very numerous, and included 
days of local observance, as the day of the patron saint of the 
Church, or the principal guilds of the parish. 

Professor Rogers will not allow that the people in servi- 
tude had many such holidays, but it seems hardly correct to 
say so. For one thing, we find that by the Statute of 
Labourers wages had to be paid not by the week but by the 


day, lest the labourer should charge for off days or half holi- 
days during the week. 

Also we find it distinctly stated that considerable incon- 
venience was caused to the employers of labour by the ex- 
cessive number of religious festivals, and that the labourers 
were impoverished thereby. 

Parsons, the Jesuit, says : "A calendar is to be drawn 
out and agreed upon for holy days that are to be observed in 
England, as few and well kept were much better than many 
with hurt of the commonwealth and dissolution of manners. 
It is no small temporal loss for poor labouring men that live 
and maintain their families by labour of their hands to have 
so great a number of vacant days, as in some countries there 
be whereby the poor are brought to great necessity, and the 
realm much hindered in things that otherwise might be done, 
and corruption of manners much increased." It is impossible 
to understand how in the face of this anyone can say that the 
system of church holidays was not to some degree an infliction 
and detriment ; still, it no doubt was an alleviation of the 
hardships of unremitting toil and servitude. It mitigated the 
rigour of the landlords' demands on the servant of the soil, 
and gave him many times of rest and refreshment. 

Then there were the wakes and revels; here all met 
together, having made great provision and preparation for 
good cheer. Friends and kinsmen were invited from far and 
near. Sports and games were the order of the day ; music 
and dancing were vigorously engaged in ; mummers and 
masqueraders mingled with the rustic throng. Robin Hood 
was there, Maid Marion, and Friar Tuck, and Little John, and 
the inevitable hobby horse and Lord of Misrule. Cudgel 
players laid about them on all sides, and sometimes broke many 
a coxcomb's pate. Hawkers and pedlars came there and sold 
their wares. Stalls and booths were set up, in which eating 
and drinking were often carried to excess. But perverted as 
they were from their original religious use, they afforded a 
welcome break in the usual monotonous routine of the manorial 
village of those days. 


The Scot-ale at Deverell, in Wiltshire, lasted, we are told, 
three days, and on the last day the bachelors could drink 
freely without payment as long as they could stand; if they 
sat down they had to pay. 

In most places a field was set apart for their gathering 
not far from the church house, where the bread was baked and 
the beer brewed. A place name which occurs in old deeds is 
the "Wake-mead"; we had a field of that name in this 
parish, where I doubt not the Wake was held. 

Then, every now and then, there would be a neighbouring 
fair to resort to. What a welcome outing that would be ! 
They would not have far to go, for there was one at Stratton- 
on-the-Fosse and another at Babbington, which was a much 
larger place than it is now. The Stratton Fair was a special 
privilege of the Lord of the Manor, Thomas de Sancto Vigore, 
which he had bought from the king in 1267, for the sum of 
£3 7s. 6d., together with the gruesome franchise of being 
allowed to hang male offenders on his own gallows, and to 
drown females in his pond. 

There was another Fair at Norton St. Philip for cloth and 
cattle, also at Midsomer Norton for pigs and pedlary. The 
St. Catherine cakes, which were sold at the fair of that patron 
saint of Frome, had a famous sale even in the days of my 
youth. Binegar Fair was, I suppose, an ancient one, as the 
Assizes were once held there. 

There was " a court of pie powder " attached to all fairs, 
at which all disputes arising out of business transactions could 
be arranged without further friction. Pie Powder was an allu- 
sion to the dust upon the feet of the travellers who came there. 

There were certain other famous fairs in various parts of 
England, such as Stourbridge and Weyhill, where the various 
implements and necessaries of the farm were to be purchased 
at the lowest prices. Here herrings and other salt fish could 
be laid in for the winter, also salt itself, which was a very dear 
article then, verdigras, copperas, gall, above all, tar for the 
sheep, besides cloth, linen, leather, and all manner of kitchen 


Then there was the tavern in which to spend a merry 
hour or two with boon companions. But the ordinary tavern 
of those days was often of a low and sordid kind, and im- 
poverished those who frequented it. It was generally kept 
by an old woman, like Mother Hoskins, whom we have read of 
in our Manor Court Rolls, who both brewed and sold ale and 
beer of various degrees of strength, copiously adulterated with 
peone seed, garlic, and other stimulants to thirst, out of a cup 
filled at the bottom with rosemary, not to give a pleasant 
odour, but to stint the measure. 

The labourer's house being close and dark, he was glad to 
turn in here and spend the evening with his village comrades 
and their wives. There they often sat through the night, over 
their ale pot, and spent their scanty earnings, and when these 
were gone, pledged their hoods and jerkins and kirtles, 
doublets and hose, and, provided their credit was good, when 
all these were pawned, ran up a score with interest and double 
interest out of their future wages. 

These taverns had as signs a pole with a thick brush at 
the end. They also were obliged to hang up a lantern before 
the door as a sign. 

The Lantern Ground in this village no doubt owes its 
name to this old custom. Old people in this parish remember 
the lantern house itself, and the site can now be clearly 

Langland, England's popular poet 'in Edward II's reign, 
who inveighs against the abuses of monks, and irregularities 
of the clergy — being himself a favourite of the Lollards — has 
left us a vivid picture of a company of labourers and artizans 
gathered together in a village ale-house in the 14th century. 

The hedger, the ditcher, the cobbler, the rag-gatherer, 
the ostler, the warriner, and men of similar occupation were 
there, and drank their ale, and drank freely and swore by 
oaths in company with the parish clerk, and left a part of their 
clothing behind in payment of their score or in pledge that 
they would pay it. 

The same picture, only a grosser one, is given us in the 


16th century, by another poet, Skelton, which shows us how 
little change had gone over the face of village life from the 
earlier to the later date. In one particular the earlier date 
comes out best, for then they sat only till evensong, while at 
this later date the sitting was often prolonged through the 
night till matins. This graphic description is quoted by 
Mr. Denton in his valuable account of the state of England 
in the 15th century. 

Once more, at harvest tide, there would have been (alas 
that we should speak of it in the past tense) the excitement of 
gathering in the corn, carrying off the last sheaf, which was 
the harvest-man's perquisite, and sitting down to the harvest 
feast in farmer or squire's barn. 

Gleaning, a century and less ago, was a common sight, 
and the leazing or gleaner's bell was rung every morning at 
8 o'clock from the church tower, and at this signal all the 
gleaners locked their doors and ran off as fast as their legs 
would carry them to get first to the harvest field. 

These various amusements may be alleged as affording 
mitigation of the hard life spent by the rustic villager in 
mediaeval days. But when it is all reckoned up, it does not 
count for much. There is no doubt that the ordinary hard- 
ships of human life in England were greater and more general 
a few centuries ago than they are now. Life was briefer, old 
age came earlier, disease was more deadly, poverty more wide- 
spread, work more toilsome and monotonous than in the 
present day. The race was smaller, weaker, more stunted. 
This is the opinion of even such an optimist as Professor 

Another writer gives a still more miserable picture of the 
condition of the early English labourer. He says that, com- 
pared with the peasants of the present day, the agricultural 
labourers of the 16th century were more wretched in their 
poverty, incomparably less prosperous in their prosperity, 
worse clad, worse fed, worse housed, worse taught, worse 
tended, worse governed, and they were sufferers from loathsome 
diseases their descendants know nothing of. (He is alluding, 


no doubt, to the plague and leprosy.) The very beasts of the 
field were dwarfed and stunted in their growth. The death 
rate among children was tremendous, the disregard for human 
life was so callous that we can hardly conceive it. There 
was everything to harden, nothing to soften ; everywhere 
oppression, grief, and falseness. So says Dr. Augustus Jessop 
in the Nineteenth Century, 1884. 

It is very desirable for the working classes at the present 
day to realise how much better off in every way they are now 
than they were then. Slowly, steadily, surely, they have 
been advancing to comparative comfort, freedom, and 
prosperity. This has been achieved, not by extortion and 
violence, nor by risings and revolutions, but by calm, though 
determined appeal to the sense of justice, and the generous 
consideration for the wants of others which animates the 
breasts of all Englishmen alike. No party in the State can 
claim the monopoly of the remedial legislation of the past 
century which has so bettered the condition of our people. 
Most unwise would it be for the working classes to throw back 
this onward beneficial movement, and alienate the sympathy 
of the public by violent efforts to force the hands of their 
employers, and seize the prizes of fortune before they have 
been fairly won. 

Strikes, though legitimate if unaccompanied by violence, 
tend to defeat their own ends if set in motion frequently, 
inconsiderately, and unadvisedly. To quarrel thus with their 
employers is only to repeat the folly of the man who killed the 
goose that laid the golden egg. 

The inconvenience to the public, the insecurity to in- 
vestors, the serious friction caused, the injustice and cruelty 
to men with starving wives and children, must incense, as 
indeed it has quite lately, all classes against the promoters 
of such frequent strikes. Nor let the labour party think 
that a golden age would be ushered in by any hare-brained 
schemes of communism and so-called socialism. They are 
more likely to usher in the deluge. 

Such Utopias have been tried and failed, from the first 


days in the Acts of the Apostles, when they " had all things 
in common," but were soon found reverting to the charitable 
collection for the poor saints of Jerusalem. As then, it was 
not long before some rose to competence, while others sunk 
into poverty, so it will ever be, and all the more so, since 
humanity can hardly expect to see such an exhibition of pure 
and unselfish motive as at this first unique example of Christian 

No, do what you will to equalise men's position and fortune 
by legislative or violent action, the tendency to revert to the 
normal will ever assert itself, while men's talents and capa- 
bilities vary, and some will live idly and extravagantly, while 
others will plod on steadily and improve assiduously the 
talents entrusted to them. In this connection the old adage 
will ever prove true : " Naturam expellas furca tamen usque 
recurrit." You may drive out normal habits with a pitch- 
fork, but they will be sure to assert themselves again. 

Communism or syndicalism, if adopted, would be the 
greatest curse which has ever fallen upon our country. It 
would paralyse the sinews of enterprise, cut asunder the 
bonds of society, destroy the security of all property, great 
and small, dry up the sources of the nation's wealth and 
prosperity, and end in universal chaos. 

Chapter VII. 


THE change which has taken place in English rural social 
life since the XVIth Century has been slow, gradual, 
and hardly perceptible until within the last 70 years. 
Modern introductions like railways, steam power, agri- 
cultural machinery, the penny post, cheap newspapers, co- 
operative stores, village allotments, the post office savings 
banks have effected in 50 years greater changes than had 
been seen in two and a half centuries. 

In spite of political and religious revolutions and all 
dynastic changes, Hodge rubbed on in much the same dull, 
sordid way as he did in the middle ages, being no better 
housed, fed, clothed, phvsicked, nursed, cheered, etc., than in 
those dark days. But all the while a new principle was at 
work which would produce a vital change in the condition of 
the working classes. The maintenance of the poor was 
passing out of the sphere of mere casual and voluntary charity 
into that of regular and compulsory relief. This is one thing 
which the parish books distinctly show us. 

A long series of remedial measures were introduced to deal 
with the pauperism and destitution which accompanied the 
dissolution of the monasteries and the appropriation of their 
revenues by the favourites of Henry VIII. 

Monasteries had been the chief sources of the relief of the 
needy. Themselves the creation of charity, they could not 
deny to others that on which they subsisted. Some others, 
like the Hospitallers, were under special obligation to show 
hospitality to all who needed it. 

There were nunneries, too, like that at Buckland 
Minsham, near Taunton, whose funds came in part from 
the rent of lands in Kilmersdon and Holcombe, where noble 



ladies spent their lives as nurses and doctors to the surrounding 

Even now, as Professor Rogers says, the ruins of these 
houses contain living records of their medicinal treatment in 
the healing herbs found within their precincts. 

Nothing appears to have been done parochially for the 
relief of the poor, but the spirit of brotherhood which animated 
the various guilds answered the same purpose. Covertly, if 
not overtly, says Bishop Hobhouse, the guild's-man bound 
himself to help his needy brother in sickness and age, and this 
sufficed for the relief of the poor, aided by the direct alms- 
giving which flowed from the open door of the monastery. At 
the date of our parish registers we see the full results of this 
change at work, but must not forget that it had been led up 
to by these preparatory measures, dating from 1535, in which 
year the principle of compulsory relief of the poor was intro- 
duced. Then each parish had to provide aid and work for its 
own paupers. Alms were to be collected on Sundays and 
Holy Days, and the clergy were bidden to stir up the people 
to give to a common fund, and to discountenance private 
charity. The sturdy beggar, however, was to be treated 
without mercy, to be whipped on a first offence, and on a 
second to have his ears cropped, and finally to suffer death as 
a felon. 

This measure did but little good, and another act was 
passed, by which it was ordered that those who obstinately 
refused to give should be reported to the Bishop and punished 
as heretics. This failing, too, another was passed in the fifth 
reign of Elizabeth, handing over such churlish people to the 
justices of the peace, who should compel their charity or 
commit them to prison. 

One more act intervened, and then the great and crowning 
act of Elizabeth, 1601, was passed, upon which our present 
poor law is based. It taxed every inhabitant in every parish 
for the relief of the poor, and provided that the church- 
wardens, " with two to four substantial householders, shall 
be nominated yearly about Easter in vestry, under the hand 


of two justices of the peace dwelling near, who should be 
called overseers of the poor of the same parish. These per- 
sons shall set to work the children of all such whose parents 
shall not be thought able to maintain them ; and also for 
setting to work all such persons married or unmarried having 
no means to maintain them, and who carry on no ordinary 
and daily trade of life to get their living by, and also to raise 
weekly or otherwise by taxation of every inhabitant, parson, 
vicar, or other in such competent sum as they shall think fit 
and convenient ; a stock of flax, wool, hemp, thread, iron, and 
other ware to set the poor to work, and also for the necessary 
relief of those not able to work, and for the putting out of such 
children as apprentices to be gathered out of the same 

In the XVII Century other remedial acts, affecting the 
position of the labouring classes, were passed. The law of the 
parochial settlement was the outcome of the change of power 
in Charles II's reign. By it the labourers' liberty to find work 
outside his parish, and to settle where it was more plentiful 
than in his own, was greatly restricted. No man was allowed 
to settle elsewhere than in his legal settlement, unless he 
occupied a house of more than £10 value, though he might 
obtain a licence, providing he gave security, not to become 
chargeable to the new parish he migrated to, and notice of 
all newcomers had to be published in church after service. 

The next enactment was one by which the financial 
position of the labourer was taken into account, and relief 
afforded him accordingly. The overseers were empowered to 
make allowances to able-bodied labourers proportionate to the 
number of their children or the general charges of their family. 
The labourer was left entirely to the mercy of the overseer. 
A man's wage did not depend on the amount of work he was 
able to do, but on what was considered sufficient to keep him 
and his family alive. From this time forward the amount 
which the ratepayers had to find to make up the allowances 
became more and more excessive and burdensome and the 
system of poor law relief became a bye-word. In fact, the 



• '3 





0> 5 

T3 -, 


H £ 


i.i.i. Iron Scori.f., Holcomee. 
2.2. Lead Scoria, Mendips. 



See page 255. 

Iron Scori k, Forest of Dean. 
Iron Scori 1:, Mayfield, Sussex. 


relationship between the overseer and the poor at this time 
was that of a father to helpless and feckless children. 

" The overseers," said Miss Hayden, " were essentially 
the poor man's guardians, exercising over him almost paternal 
care. They paid the midwife for bringing him into the world, 
fed, clothed, housed him during his lifetime ; if he took him- 
self a wife, defrayed a part of the wedding expenses, allowed 
him medicine and money when he was lying steel (still), 
tended him during his last illness, and after laying out the 
corpse and providing a coffin, regaled the bearers with bread, 
cheese, and beer." 

Some items of this expenditure upon the labourer she 
gives us as follows : — 

A new pacax (pickaxe), 2/3, for Hannah Gregory to dig 

flints with. 
A speening turn (spinning wheel) for Abraham Goodland, 

A shirt for John Morgan and cleaning him of the lise, 1/-. 
A bottle of daftery lectery (Daffy's elixir) for Abraham 

Goodland, 2/3. 
For lissons (licence) to marry William Hayne and his 

wife, two guineas. 
For ointment for Betty Tucker's ledge (legs), 1/1. 
For ye stratching out Ann Nokes, and for meat and 

drink, wool, bell and grave, 6/6. 
To Mary Morgan for her groaning (gown), 4/6. 
John Nokes for his burial, in bread, cheese, and beer, and 
making ye grave and affdavat and stratching him 
out, and attending him in sickness, 5/6. 
So at Holcombe we find for a donkey for 

old Nathaniel Gilson . . . . ..£250 

Paid for apprenticing Martha Heal to 

Samuel Clements 
Ann Ruddock, her lying-in 
Given in plants and potatoes to poor 
Alice Dainton, towards buying furniture 
for her set off . . 

£5 10 


£5 17 




Shirts for twenty-four persons . . ..£560 

Apprenticing Doctor Witcombe's bastard £2 10 o 

Henry Heal because he is neither able nor 

willing to work ! ! . . . . . . 16 o 

However, one great and good work, done by the overseers 
of those days was that of apprenticing young people to various 
trades. Nothing could have been better. They took them 
out of their sordid surroundings, gave them a start in life, 
trained them in habits of industry, sobriety and obedience, 
and provided a body of skilled labourers and mechanics who 
could hold their own in spite of the fluctuations of the labour 

Then came the days of the parish poor-house. At first 
in these houses work of various kinds was given to the inmates, 
sufficient to make them almost self-supporting. These poor- 
houses were often situated on the site of the old church house. 
Mr. Ditchfield tells us that wool, lime, timber, and sand used 
to be stored in these buildings, and that it was often let to 
pedlars and wandering merchants for depositing their goods 
during the fair. Before these poor-houses or work-houses 
were built, the poor were maintained in their own homes, and 
their rent was often paid for them by the overseers. In fact, 
the labouring population appear to have been housed rent 
free in time of distress or sickness. Often we find that long 
arrears of rent were paid to their landlords by the overseers. 
We find that in this parish in 181 1 £1/1/- was paid for rent of a 
cottage occupied by Nathaniel Gilson ; 5/- for late Robbins ; 
2/6 for late Smart's ; £1/19/- for Isaac Rich's house rent ; 
13/- for cottage and garden occupied by Isaac Treasure ; 10/6 
for the house rent for Edward Steed and family ; 2 guineas 
for Sarah Ruddock ; also 2 guineas for Thomas Lewis for two 
years rent ; and £1/10/- for William Robence. 

There is also the following entry : " Paid property tax 
for the poor people's houses that was not able to pay it without 
relief from the parish, £2/9/2." 

At a vestry held in this parish in 1812 it was resolved to 
build a new poor-house, and Mr. Salmon lent money to the 


parish for the purpose. Robert Ashford and Emanuel Green 
were overseers at the time. 

There is an entry in the Manor Roll accounts of £3 
received yearly by Mr. Salmon from a Mr. Johnson for the 
silk house. This was the name of the poor-house or work- 
house at Kilmersdon, and in all probability of Holcombe also, 
since the carding and winding of silk was what the girls were 
chiefly put to in these workhouses. The new poor-houses 
were afterwards bought by the Padfield family, and turned 
into a row of cottages called Longleat. The inmates of these 
houses seem to have been rather disorderly, as repairs were 
continually required for glazing the windows and putting up 
new iron bars to protect them. 

The work-house has never been a popular institution, in 
fact it has been regarded rather as a disgrace to be an inmate 
of it. 

No doubt the system of separating the sexes has pre- 
judiced people against it. Also the being subjected to a bath, 
and to the oakum picking in the morning. The story is told 
of a rough, who, when asked where he had been during his 
absence from home, answered : "In the autumn I was 
picking 'ops, in the winter I was picking pockets, and I had 
to pick oakum in the spring." This, however, referred to the 
gaol rather than the workhouse. 

Outdoor relief is more popular, and in some cases more 
desirable, but a decrepit and aged pauper cannot be left to 
look after himself or herself in a ruinous cottage, and is much 
better off in the workhouse. 

The infirmary is especially comfortable for sick and in- 
firm people. I knew a woman who had seen better days, and 
always disappeared from the village during the winter, and 
on her return said she had been living at her town residence, 
by which she meant the infirmary. Old people have been 
known to stick to their tumble-down shanties till they had to 
be almost smoked out. I remember a man who had been a 
Newfoundland fisherman who had to be thus forcibly carried 
off to the Union by the relieving officer, and who had been on 


parish pay for years, though he had a stocking full of money 
up the chimney, which he had left untouched all the time, and 
which was found after his removal. 

The rates in this parish at one period early in the last 
century were enormously high, the reason being that so many 
men were maimed by accidents when working in the pits at a 
time when they were so unsafe. 

For instance : — James Treasure, in 1815, received 6/- 
for his fingers being cut off in the coal pit ; Joseph West, 
hurted at coal pit, 3/6 ; James Horler, hurted at coal pit, 4/6 ; 
John Padfield, hurted at coal pit, £1/1/- ; Joseph West, 1816, 
£1/3/- ; Daniel Wilcox, 10/- ; James Treasure, 3/-. 

These cases and others continued to receive relief for some 
years. Then there were the sums paid for substitutes for the 
militia and navy, and help given to the wives of soldiers gone 
to the war. 

For instance : Paid House's wife while he was in the 
militia, 13/- ; Paid Morgan's wife rent and fuel and 13/- 
while he was in the militia. 

£3 per head was generally paid by the overseer for men 
bought out of the militia, and £12 for sailors seized by the 
" crimp " or press-gang. Farmers had to pay their own 
exemption money, which came up to £50. 

As the French War proceeded the cost of finding sub- 
stitutes increased to £14, and even then the parish paid rather 
than lose their men from the work of the farm. But at last 
the price of a substitute beat the overseers, and the men had 
to be sent off to serve against revolutionary France. 

The sum of £4/16/- was paid by this parish in 1814 for 
eight months for the family of Isaac Padfield serving in the 
militia, and £2/7/- for Thomas Burfit's substitute. 

" Those days," says Miss Hayden, " were the days of the 
petticoat harvest, when the labourers changed their smocks 
for the king's uniform, and their reaping hooks for muskets, 
when the crops were gathered by women, and the cry, ' there's 
a man,' was heard if one chanced to pass by." 

At that time the maintenance of the poor was let out to 


the lowest tender, and those who received relief wore badges 
on their arms as signs of being objects of charity. 

The rate of wages was arbitrarily fixed. Married men 
received higher wages than single. Their usual pay was seven 
shillings a week, that of the single man only 4/6. The only 
way for them to get their wages raised was to marry, which 
they often did, simply, as they said, to spite the parish. 

The worst state of things existed during the war against 
Napoleon. Then the means of a decent livelihood was 
rendered practically unattainable for the poorer classes. Miss 
Davies speaks of men going about with a piece of sacking tied 
round their necks with holes for their legs and arms as their 
sole clothing. This is no exaggeration. An old woman told 
my father that her clothing, when she worked in the 
fields at that time, consisted only of a skirt of rough dowlass 
cloth, made at Wincanton and Stoke Trister in those days, to 
cover her nakedness, supplied by the overseer, while the men 
put a sack over their heads, with holes in it for their arms and 
legs. She also said that 2d. was all that was thrown back out 
of a shilling paid for a quartern loaf, and that when you got it 
you were afraid to eat it, not knowing when you might get 
another. She said that the poor boiled nettles, and almost 
anything green, for nourishment, so that the^outcry against 
Fouillon, the great corn contractor of France, at the time of 
the French Revolution, because he said that grass was good 
enough for the people, which ended in his being hung to a 
lamp post, does not appear so preposterous. But happily 
this misery at last came to an end, and by-and-bye, in 1834, 
the system of district unions finally placed the whole matter 
of the relief of the poor upon a sounder economical basis. 

From this year we may date the gradual rise of the tide 
with respect to the status of the agricultural labourer. The 
betterment has been slow but steady. The housing of the 
poor, though in many places for a long time most unsatis- 
factory, has improved greatly. In 1843 the report of the 
Poor Law Commissioners, and of such men as Lord Sydney, 
Godolphin Osborne, and Canon Girdlestone, show that tene- 


ments were still no better than shanties. The majority had 
only two rooms, the sitting room and the bedroom, in which 
the whole family slept in two or three beds, barely screened 
off the one from the other. They were mostly built of clay 
and pebble (" Cob Cottages " as they were called), and had 
no ceilings, but only thatch over their heads — though, after 
all, a thatched roof is not to be despised, as it is the warmest 
covering for a room that can be. In this parish we find that 
the best plan is, in making repairs, to leave the thatch, if 
possible, above the ceiling, and then timber up and cover it 
all with tiles. 

Wages again, at that time, were reported by the Poor 
Law Commissioners to be, on the average for the whole year, 
eight shillings to ten shillings, with an allowance of three 
pints daily of cider, and the privilege of buying an inferior 
kind of corn called " Grist," consisting of the tailings of wheat, 
too small in grain for the market. 

Beer was sometimes given in lieu of wages. This was the 
so-called Truck system, entirely disallowed now for some 

The hours of labour were very long, and the diet of the 
labourer was very scanty. How he managed to keep body 
and soul together was the marvel. He had for breakfast, 
kettlebroth, consisting of a little flour, salt, butter, and hot 
water, with a teaspoonful of milk added ; for lunch, bread 
and cheese ; for dinner, a few potatoes and a little bacon ; for 
supper, bread and water. Often he was glad to eat horse 
beans, and even snails. How children ever grew up on their 
fare is a mystery. Many had only one meal a day, consisting 
of a thin paste of flour with salt or treacle. 

Women had to work in the fields almost like the men, 
and leave their babies under the care of an elder girl. Boys 
also had to go out from dawn to eve, with often only a crust of 
bread in their hands, at 3/- or 4/- a week. A boy scaring 
birds, as we know from Mr. Button, received only 2d. a day. 

George Mitchell, of Montacute, who rose to be a master 
mason in London in after years, gave a fearful account of the 


slavery and destitution he went through, till he^broke away 
from it all and learnt a trade. Some, of course, such as 
carters and shepherds, fared better, and all, in harvest 
time, got their food given them by the farmer, while it 

But it was a miserable kind of existence, and glad indeed 
were many men to go into exile into the North of England, 
where wages were much higher, and where Canon Girdlestone 
interested himself on their behalf at Halburton, and assisted 
them to find a new sphere of labour. 

So time went on, and things began to mend under the 
pressure of public opinion, till in 1872 we find the reports 
much more satisfactory, though still leaving much room for 

The allotment system had been largely taken up, and 
though too high a rent was often asked, it was a great boon to 
the labourer. His twenty or forty lug of potato ground 
was a veritable Arcadia in his eyes. 

The drawback to the success of the allotment system 
was the frequent failure on the part of the holders to give the 
land enough manure. They often simply worked it out and 
then threw it up. 

This was the writer's experience in his former parish, but 
is happily not the case, where, as in Holcombe, the land is let 
under strict regulations by the Parish Council. The land is 
then fairly well looked after, and economically cultivated. 
Help, too, could be obtained by investing in the various 
benefit clubs and friendly societies, where subscriptions were 
returned with good interest. 

The local labourer was also assisted by various endowed 
charities, such as the Babington Charity, in this parish and 
Stratton-on-the-Fosse, left by the Knatchbull family. Then 
the bonus given by charitable persons to clothing clubs in 
many parishes, amounting, as I can testify, to as much as 
threepence in the shilling, was a great advantage to those 
who contributed from id. to 3d. a week into the fund. This 
enabled many a struggling mother to buy a store of blankets, 


boots, and shoes for her household and children during the 
winter season. 

The status of the artisan also has distinctly improved 
since the middle of the eighteenth century. At that date a 
carpenter earned 2/6 a day, he now earns 5/6 ; a cotton 
weaver, 8/- a week, he now earns 20/- ; a coal miner, 15/-, 
he now can command, by piece work, as much as 30/-. But 
if the wages of the mechanic and artisan have, on the 
whole, greatly increased, we must remember that he has 
lost some obvious advantages he possessed in those earlier 
days. For one thing, he still lived to a great extent in the 
country. He often had his piece of land, which supplied him 
with wholesome food and healthy recreation. He was to a 
greater extent than now his own master. He could sell his 
labour to whom he liked, and at his own price, net being 
subject to the tyranny of a trade's union. 

But the introduction of machinery, and the establishment 
of great factories and mercantile establishments, revolutionised 
the status of the artisan and small worker at his own domestic 
industry, and deprived him of his liberty, his variety of occu- 
pation, his domesticity, and even his healthfulness. 

To-day the farm hand is mostly paid by a weekly wage, 
he does not often undertake piece work or " tutwork." Nor 
are there so many independent labourers, men who were 
experts in various occupations, as there used to be. Such 
men were free to suit themselves, and used to go up country 
(as they said "harvesting"), that is into Wilts and Berks. 
" Strappers," as they were then called, were engaged in piece 
work, to tie up the wheat cut by the patent mowing machines. 
They were paid at the rate of five to seven shillings per acre. 
This harvesting was their halcyon time, and enabled them to 
work off some long scores run up at the shop against them 
during the year. 

Skilled men, as thatchers for instance, will always 
command more wages than the ordinary farm labourer. So 
also with the various trades. Under the old apprentice 
system there were many skilled men ; now, in the decay of 


apprenticeship, they are few and far between. This is one 
main cause of the unemployment of the present day. Un- 
skilled work will be always the first to be discarded in any 
glut of labour or deficiency of work. Casual labourers must 
take their chance of this. Tradesmen bewail now their 
difficulty in getting good work done by their assistants, who 
have not been properly trained in their trade. If lads will not 
stick to their term of apprenticeship, they must suffer for it in 
the long run. They will become casuals, and the casual must 
drift down the stream until he finds himself out at sea. 

A common cry of the country-side now-a-days is, " Give 
us some land to cultivate," but there is an old saying which it 
will be always necessary to take to heart, " Ne sutor ultra cre- 
pidam." "Let the shoemaker stick to his last." The saying had 
this origin : A shoemaker having once suggested to the. great 
painter, Apelles, an error in the form of a shoe he had painted, 
the artist readily taking the hint, altered the picture in that 
detail. But when the same shoemaker was proceeding to 
recommend alterations in the form of the leg of the figure, he 
received the rebuke which thence became proverbial : " The 
shoemaker should not meddle with anything beyond his last." 

This cautionary saying is still needed. Farming is a 
business of its own, as much as the miner's work is, the 
mason's, the blacksmith's, and for all that, the parson's. Let 
each stick to their own business, as the shoemaker was advised 
to stick to his last. 

Every facility should be granted to tradesmen and 
carriers for getting a paddock as feed for their horses, cottage 
gardens should be enlarged, and the allotment system 
extended as far as possible ; but the three acres and a cow 
is an Utopian idea, which can only end in failure. Capital, 
as well as experience, is needed to make a profit, or 
even a bare living out of the land, and sooner or later, the 
man who tries to farm without these qualifications, will find to 
his cost that he has made a mistake. A favourite project with 
those who believe that Socialism is the true remedy for un- 
employment, is the nationalisation of the land. But, as a no 


less large-minded and thorough-going Liberal than Professor 
Thorold Rogers, M.P., wrote in 1908 : " The policy which 
would make the State the universal landlord, after providing 
for the compensation of existing interests, would be only less 
fatal and foolish than that which confiscated them without 
compensation." And surely I may add that the State 
would need the shoulders of Atlas to sustain it, under so 
gigantic a burden of administrative functions. 

The centralisation of poor relief through the various 
Unions effected considerable economy in our local rates, but 
other fresh charges have raised them again far above the 

One source of charge upon our rates comes from the 
repair of the roads. This is excessively heavy, owing to 
the wretched way in which they were originally made, and 
the heavy traffic which runs over them. The traction engines, 
used to convey coal and stones, traversing the same track in 
the narrow lanes, wears them into ruts, which continually 
require to be filled up with metal. 

This district has always had a bad character in this 
respect. In 1618 the people of Stoke St. Michael complained 
at the Sheriff's Court held at Ilchester that, owing to the many 
coal mines started in their district, the roads had got very 
much into decay, and very " founderous and bad for travel- 
ling." They petitioned that Doulting may be forced to pay 
part of the expense of repairing them, and the order was 

In Queen Elizabeth's day it was ordered for every ten 
loads of coal and every ton of iron, a usual cart-load of cinder, 
gravel, sand and chalk should be laid down for mending such 
highways. Another statute was passed in Philip and Mary's 
time for mending the highways, which were said to be " very 
noisome and tedious to travel in, and dangerous to all pas- 
sengers and carriages." 

The Romans, of course, put us to shame with their 
wonderful system of road making. The Fosse Road, a section 
of which was explored by Mr. G. MacMurtrie, was found to 


have been constructed in a most thorough manner, after the 
principles laid down by Vitruvius, the Roman architect. It 
went straight as an arrow, and never shirked a hill by creeping 
round it as the old British tracks did. It was always raised 
above the level of the surrounding country. The Romans 
had rougher roads across country connecting villa with villa. 
These were sometimes paved with flag-stones, as is the case 
with one over the hills near Monmouth, and as it is apparently 
with the lane leading down from Pitcote to Edford, which 
was used in later days as a collier's pack-horse way. Pack- 
saddle Bridge at Coleford was traversed by many such pack- 
horses. Mr. William Padfield's grandsire was a proprietor of 
such a pack-horse team. But after the Roman days no good 
roads were made in England till the days of our Macadam. 

The Romans spent themselves upon making roads. They 
left here no other great monumental structures, such as we 
still gaze at with wonder abroad ; no amphitheatres like those 
at Orange, Nimes, Aries, Verona, and Rome ; no bridges like 
the Pont-de-Garde near Tarascon, or Trajan's gigantic bridge 
over the Danube ; no aqueduct like that whose great arches 
still stand near Frejus. Their roads alone are still their monu- 
mental records. These, laid for military purposes, admirably 
answered their end, and the legions could be marched from 
camp to camp in an incredibly short time. 

Suetonius, after he heard of the revolt of the British at 
Camulodunum, our modern Chelmsford, was able to march 
straight across England from Anglesea, in time to crush the 
gathered army under Boadicea with terrible slaughter. His 
time record, however, was beaten by King Harold, who, in 
two days marched from Stamford Bridge to Hastings, in spite 
of the awful state of the roads at that later date. 

The roads were so bad from that time that a charter was 
given to Bristol by Edward III, in 1377, constituting it a 
county, in order to save the burgesses from travelling to 
Gloucester and Ilchester, over 30 miles of almost impassable 

Oratories and Chapels of Ease were licensed and built 


because people could not get to their parish churches. A 
cemetery was allowed to Ashwick Church because the in- 
habitants could not bring the funeral bier so far as Kilmersdon, 
the Mother Church, owing to the bad roads. So great indeed 
was the inconvenience of travelling, owing to the bad state of 
the roads and bridges, that indulgences were granted to 
people who would keep them in repair ; 40 days' indulgence 
were allowed by the Bishop of Durham in 1311 for help to- 
wards the bridges and highways in that county. In fact, the 
keeping of the roads in repair, which was part of the " Trinoda 
necessitas," was not considered as a secular matter, but as a 
pious and meritorious work, and people left moneys for that 
purpose, which bequests were often enforced upon forgetful 
legatees. But as the maintenance of these roads depended 
so much upon the goodwill and devotion of those to whom 
the adjoining land belonged, it is no wonder that they often 
fell into disrepair and decay. 

This wretched state of the roads in the 18th century 
necessitated gentlemen travelling about in carriages drawn 
by six horses. This was not for display, but from the.necessity 
of the case. Sydenham Poyntz, of Mells, cloth merchant, 
in 1750, drove a carriage and six. An ancestor of the writer's, 
Anthony Wickham, Rector of Horsington, who died in 
1767, at the age of 86, speaks in his will of his 4 carriage 
horses, which were necessary to drag him through the deep, 
unsteined {sic) ways. Another rector of Horsington, Thomas 
Wickham, 1808, when he drove out, used to have an outrider 
to blow a horn, that any vehicle approaching might pull up in 
the broadest or best parts of the road to allow him to pass: 
The highways, in fact, as originally laid out, were mere tracks, 
and often two or three times their present width, and many 
squatters built cottages on the waste. 

No material remedy could be effected till a regular toll 
was exacted from all persons using the roads. At first they 
were taken at the gates of all cities, afterwards midway upon 
the roads and bridges. The first toll-bar in England, at 
Highgate, was kept under royal licence 500 years ago by 


William Phelippe, the hermit, and was only taken off in July, 
1864. Tolls, however, were levied, not only for keeping the 
roads in order. Travellers passing in and out of our towns 
were taxed for keeping their walls in order. This was called 
" Murage." Turnpikes were first erected in 1612. 

The first turnpike act was passed in 1663. 

Taunton appears to have been the first town in Somerset 
to apply to Parliament for a turnpike act. The bill was 
opposed by Humphry Sidenham, M.P. for Exeter, but de- 
fended by Thomas Prowse, who called forth great laughter in 
the House of Parliament by undertaking to prove that the 
roads were in such a bad state that it would be no more 
expensive to make them navigable than to make them fit for 

In 1752 the erection of gates under the new law was 
resented as an infringement upon the liberty of the subject ; 
the gates were smashed at night, the gate houses burnt down, 
and the military had to be called in support of the law. 

The turnpikes were let out to tender by the trustees, who 
found the original funds to make and keep up the roads. They 
were put up to auction at an annual dinner in the county town, 
where much chaffering and bluff took place, but it generally 
ended in the original lessee taking them on again even at a 
higher rate. 

The toll keepers or pikers were an independent lot of men, 
and not over obliging. Dickens makes the elder Weller say : 
" They're all on 'em men as has met with some disappoint- 
ment in life ; consequence of vich they retires from the world 
and shuts themselves up in pikes, partly with the view of 
being solitary, and partly to revenge themselves on mankind 
by taking tolls. If they was genTm'n you'd call them mis- 
anthropes, but as it is, they takes to pike keeping." 

The usual tolls throughout England and Wales were, for 
a horse passing through the gates, ijd. ; if drawing a vehicle, 
4jd. ; for a carriage and pair, cjd. ; farmers, with a waggon 
and four horses, paid i/6 ; and sometimes they had to pay on 
the return journey if they brought back a different freight. 


Cattle paid so much per score, about iod., sheep and pigs 

Wheels had to be of a special width, according to the 
tonnage of the wagon. When a toll was once paid, it served 
for the day till midnight, through the same pike, and tickets 
were granted clearing the next gate if on the same trust. 

The name of Macadam, the great road engineer, who was 
called the " Colossus of Rhodes," ought to be ever had in 
honour amongst us. 

The first important work in England upon which he was 
employed was in the Bristol district, which he was com- 
missioned to undertake by Parliament in 18 19. Though the 
system of Telford has been more popular, as far as laying the 
foundation of roads in a substantial manner with concrete 
and blocks of stone was concerned, yet Macadam's plan of 
using small, angular broken stones for the surface, has never 
been surpassed, and is in constant use at the present day. 
Macadam's rule of having a fall of 1 foot in 60 from the 
middle of the road to the sides, has also found general approval. 

Of course there were some who disapproved of the 
reformation inaugurated by Macadam, and would have stuck 
to the old plan of a kind of pavement or cobble road. A 
cynic who found fault with Macadam's roads in wet weather 
once suggested that if he ever set up his carriage he should 
assume the motto, " Miror Magis," I rather add-mire. Another 
story is told of one old waywarden in Cornwall who bearded 
the great road engineer to his face at a public dinner given in 
his honour, when he had driven his first turnpike road through 
the west. When asked why he sat silent when others cheered 
the honoured guest, he bluntly said : "I don't like your road 
at all, by no means." " But what are the grounds of your 
objections ? " said Mr. Macadam. " Why, sir, you have had 
a brave lot of money out of the country, and there's nothing 
as I see to show for it. It's all gone." " Gone, sir, gone ? " 
was the astonished reply. " Why, bless me, isn't there the 
road, the fine, wide, level road, in evidence ? " " Well, yes, 
sartainly, but where' s the materials that cost such a sight 


of taxes ? You've smashed 'em to nort, there's dust in the 
drought, and muck in the rain, but nowt else that I see. Now 
when I was waywarden, I let the farmers have something to 
show for their money. Why, sir, 'tis ten year agon come 
Candlemas, that I was in office for the ways, and I put down 
stones as big as bee-hives, and there they be now ! " 

Macadam's name is still perpetuated by being used for 
a particular kind of manufactured block stone used for the 
roads, and manufactured at this day by the Emborough 
Quarry Co. 

There were several kinds of vehicles in the days before 
railways. The best, of course, were the Royal Mails. Then 
there were the^tage coaches. They took their time over it 
and stopped for the night at various places. One such stage 
coach, in 1720, left London at 3 a.m., stopped for lunch at 
10 a.m., and concluded the journey for the day at 3 p.m. In 
four days, of 12 hours each, it reached its destination at Exeter. 
The journey between York and London, 150 years ago, was 
advertised to be " done, God willing, between four and five 

The "Northern Diligence," according to Sir Walter Scott, 
in 1745, was advertised to perform its journey to London in 
three weeks. 

These coaches were called "machines" and "post- 
coaches." Later on they anticipated our last vehicle, the 
aeroplane, by being called Rockets and Highflyers, but even 
their speed would by no means be called fast in the present 

One advertisement ran thus : — " The Rumsey Machine 
through Winchester, hung on steel springs, begins flying on 
the 3rd of April, from London to Poole in one day." 

Another advertisement in 1739 says : — " The old standing 
constant Froome flying waggon in three days sets out with 
goods and passengers from Froome to London, every Monday 
by one o'clock in the morning, and will be at the King's Alms, 
Holborn, the Wednesday following, by 12 at noon. From 
whence it will set out on Thursday morning by one o'clock for 


Amesbury, Shrewton, Chiltern, Heytesbury, Warminster, 
Frome, and all other places adjacent, and will continue 
allowing each passenger 14 lbs., and be at Frome on Saturday 
by 12 at noon. If any passengers have- occasion to go from 
any of the aforesaid places, they shall be supplied with able 
horses and a guide, by Joseph Clavey, the proprietor of the 
said Flying Waggon. The Waggon calls at the White Bear in 
Piccadilly, coming in and going out." 

These were, in reality, slow, broad-wheeled vehicles, 
which carried goods and passengers, short passengers, as 
they were called, going the length, perhaps, of a day's 
journey, who nestled in the straw of the waggon, and enjoyed 
the company of all sorts and conditions of rniddle class men 
and women. Several vans were sent out from Frome 
into the surrounding villages in 1792. Hunt's, from 
Weymouth and Wincanton, passed through the town on 
its way to Bath every Friday at noon, and returned the 
same day. A waggon by Webb & Co. set out every Monday 
and Thursday morning for the Crab's Well, Temple Street, 
Bristol, and returned Tuesday and Friday mornings. 

The fare from London to Frome was £i/y/-. A van 
belonging to Joseph Webb, left the Duke of Cumberland's 
Arms, Holcombe, for Bath and Frome twice a week, and a 
waggon for heavy goods once a week. 

Every road had its" favourite coach or flying machine: 
There was the "Exeter Fly" on the road of that name, 
the "Beaufort Hunt" on the Marlborough and Devizes 
road, the " Flying Dutchman " on the Bath road, and the 
" Comet " on the Salisbury route. But the " Quick-silver," 
on the London road, was half an hour faster than any other, 
and was accounted the miracle of the road, and yet of it it was 
said : " She just keeps time and that's all." 

The repair of the roads gives employment to many 
labourers ; and though the payment is not high, it is a great 
help to men out of work, and unable to stand the long hours 
on a farm, and such as are partly incapacitated by lameness 
and loss of arm or leg, yet their pay is much more than such 


men were paid, in Cobbett's day. He tells us in his " Rural 
Rides " that he once came to Frome, September, 1826, and 
found two hundred men and boys employed making a new 
road into the town, probably Bath Street, and that they were 
paid only 2/6 a week. These men, he says, were weavers out 
of work owing to the slump which had followed upon a boom 
in the cloth trade, when prices were inflated above all reason- 
able amount. 

There were, of course, good roads on the main routes 
between the big towns, and the stage coaches often ran on them 
at a break-neck pace. The run down the long hill out of 
Dorchester in the Bath to Weymouth coach has imprinted 
itself upon the memory of the writer. The horses seemed to 
have their hoofs in the air all the way down the hill. This 
was in 1852, and the name of the stage coach was " The 

The coaches which negotiated the steep declivities of the 
Devon hills near Ilfracombe and Minehead beat the record for 
break-neck pace. One of the Jehus on this route, when 
remonstrated with, said : ''I puts my trust in Providence and 
my axle wheel, and lets the 'orses 'ave their 'eads." 

Jack Sprorson was a well-known whip on the Devizes and 
Hungerford road, and a typical example of the highest class 
of his profession, and we Marlborough boys used to think it a 
great honour to sit on the box by his side. Once, when 
defending the safety of coach-travelling versus that of the 
railway, he said : " Why, if you have a spill out of my vehicle 
there you are," pointing to a field of turnips on the other side 
of the hedge. " But if you are smashed up on the railway, 
where are you ? " 

But Jack Sprorson and all his tribe of Jehus and whips 
with their following of guards, ostlers and postboys, and their 
rattling coaches and spanking teams, are things of the past, 
and the motor car, with its diabolical hoot, and trailing clouds 
of dust (not glory), and its two fiery eyes by night, has knocked 
them out of date, and usurped the empire of the roads. They 
are here, no doubt, to stay for a time, but even they 



may be superseded some day by a more novel method 
of locomotion. 

Already a new and cheap highway has been discovered, 
where smoke and smell and dust are unknown — the highway 
of the air, and this may one day be thronged with winged 
chariots, when our present race of Phaetons and disciples of 
Icarus have paid their sad sacrifice of experience, and men 
have learned, through their fate, the secret of navigating this 
dangerous element. 

But the petrol-driven motor is used for propulsion on 
water as well as on land, and why should it not serve to drive 
boats upon our canals in the place of the present slow and 
cumbrous arrangement of the barge and horse which plods 
along so wearily upon the towing path ? Many of these 
canals, which were formerly so much in evidence, have now 
been abandoned, being cut out by the railway, with its more 
expeditious goods trains ; and the old floating population who 
lived upon their barges, day and night, is almost an extinct 

The bed and towing path of one such derelict waterway 
may be traced for a long distance down the Edford and 
Coleford valley as far as Mells, and if there were no obstacles 
placed in the way could be easily made serviceable for mineral- 
laden boats propelled by motor power. An Act of Parliament 
sanctioning its use under the pretentious title of the Dorset 
and Somerset Canal is still in force, and now that the 
mineral products of the district are being so much more 
largely realized than they were formerly, there would surely 
be a better prospect of substantial returns for the outlay of 
capital than there was when it was first set on foot with 
such a flourish of trumpets. 

Another heavy charge upon the rates arises from the ever 
increasing expense of our elementary education, so called. 
The modern Elementary School System dates from Mr. 
Foster's Bill of 1870. Hitherto the education of our working 
population no doubt was somewhat unsatisfactory. There 
was not any proper supervision, nor any sufficient guarantee 


of efficiency in the teaching staff. The masters and mistresses 
were often wanting in the qualifications necessary to insure a 
thorough accurate and practical education. 

But the children certainly were then taught things which 
fitted them for their work in life far more than the geography, 
grammar, and mathematics with which their heads are 
crammed in the present day. 

What use can it be to a child, aged 9 years, in an elemen- 
tary school in the third standard, or, indeed, in any standard, 
to know the difference between the subject and the predicate, or 
how " the watershed of a country affects the length, rapidity, 
and navigability of its rivers" ? 

A child whose brain is taxed by such questions has 
probably a better acquaintance with a more personal kind of 
" watershed " than this natural history one. 

But the educational system which was practically dis- 
established by Mr. Foster's Act in 1870 was a great deal 
better than that which had prevailed in the earliest decades of 
the 19th century. This was the era of Dame schools, where 
the curriculum was of the most elementary sort, and con- 
sisted chiefly in copying pothooks and reading from primers. 
The teachers knew little more than the scholars, and when in 
a fix to explain or pronounce a hard word, would get out of the 
difficulty by saying, " That's a bad word, pass it by," or, as an 
old man once told the writer, " Thee blow thee's nozen and 
go on." Happily in these schools, as at Holcombe, they 
taught sewing and knitting as well as reading. Spelling was 
not taught in those days as we clearly see, for we come across 
some curious examples of churchwardens' and overseers' 
spelling in the old registers. Their orthography is bound 
by no conventional methods, they spelt words as they 

For making our own rats — rates. 

To several traulers — Travellers. 

For killing a noter, 2d. — An otter ? 

Paid on the Crownastion day to Ringers, 5/-. 

For setting up Sent Jorge — St. George. 


Two sakys of Mise — two sacks of moss. 
To wote-meal — Oatmeal. 

Pd. to Mr. Taylor for the book (Bible) that lyed in ye 
church, 6/-. 

For cullering ye weather cock, 6d. 

Payd to make the parishioners drynke at the pressession, 


For making ye wherlgog — Revolving gate or turnstile in 
the churchyard. 

For fower Hossespittals, £2/12/-. 

Miss Haydon also gives the following : — 

Honney and Vinnigar for Freeman's coff. 

The Saxons (Sexton's) Salary, £1. 

Sarmint for sermon. 

Julicate for duplicate. 

Tronaps for Turnips. 

Few labourers could sign their name. The Waywarden 
of Holcombe, in 1817, could only make his cross. This was 
called his criss cross. " I am no scholar but I can put my 
Criss Cross " is still said in West Somerset. The word Criss 
Cross is an abbreviation of Christ's Cross-row, or the cross on 
the children's horn book. The horn book, or battledore, as it 
was called from its shape, was merely a wooden tablet covered 
with a piece of talc or horn, on which the alphabet was printed 
or written, in Roman and black letters, together with the 
Lord's Prayer, and the words of invocation to the Holy 
Trinity which were to be used as a charm against the spell of 
witches. This was the children's primer. It was evidently 
the common opinion among the country people that to " know 
the Criss-Cross " was a complete education. 

An old man at Horsington once said to a lady visitor : 
" I asked so and so the other day why the Robin had a red 
breast and he couldn't answer me, and I said,' you call yourself 
a scholard and say you've learnt your criss-cross and don't 
know that.' " He was alluding to the legend that the Robin- 
red-breast was sprinkled with the blood and water which 
flowed from the Saviour's side. Hence it was held to be a 


sacred bird, and to kill it a sin, and conversely that kindness 
to the Robin would be sure to be repaid. 

Even now we are told that a large proportion of the 
depositors in the Post Office Savings Bank can neither read 
nor write. A man, not connected with any savings bank 
himself, wrote on behalf of a depositor, and explained his 
action in this way : u I 'ad the whole business thro' my hands 
cos he was an ilitrate." 

These faults of bad spelling, however, were by no means 
confined to the working classes. The upper classes were 
often woefully deficient in this respect. As Macaulay tells us, 
persons highly born and highly bred were unable to write a 
line in their mother tongue without faults in spelling such as 
a child of the fourth standard would be ashamed to commit in 
the present day. It is only about 200 years ago that a Queen 
of England wrote this in the title-page of a superb English 
Bible, now in the library at the Hague : " This book was 
given to the King and I at our crownation," and she had been 
instructed by a Bishop, and was thought a superior woman. 

The teaching of mathematics in olden days was most 
singular in its methods, for as we find in such books as 
those of Robert Record and John Mellis, 1636, by 
way of making it attractive, and less irksome, the various 
ordinary rules were given extraordinary names, as the 
backer rule, the golden rule, the rule of falsehood, the 
rule of fellowship, and the rule of alligation. Then 
there were also sports and pastimes done by number. The 
mention of alligation suggests a story a propos of the Home 
Rule agitation, now again set on foot in our midst. The 
following incident took place in the Parliament held in Dublin 
during Grattan's short-lived session. " Mr. Speaker," said 
an honourable member, foaming with wrath, " the member 

for calls me a trimmer. Sir, I repudiate the allegation, 

and," shaking his fist at the member, " I defy the Alligator." 
A propos also of those days of Irish troubles, a story is told 
of Bernal Osborne, who, when the Chief Secretary remarked 
to him at the time of the Fenian row how hot the political 


atmosphere then was, replied, " Yes, indeed, sir, it's 97 in the 

In the days before Board Schools the simplicity and want 
of understanding as to matters outside their daily life and 
village concerns was almost past conception. A remarkable 
example of this once came across the author's observation, 
and provoked his astonishment. An old marine, who had 
served in the Bellerophon, which he always called the " Billy 
ruffian," being indignant with the Government in calling out 
his son, a reservist, to join the colours at Malta when Indian 
troops were sent there owing to a misunderstanding with 
Russia, delivered himself of his indignation in these words : 
" Why, if that there Dizzie and old Nick (the Emperor of 
Russia long dead) wants to go to war, let them fight it out 
between themselves, I don't care whether it be with swords 
or pistols or fisticuffs." Evidently he was going back to the 
primitive method of Homeric days, and of that notable 
champion, Goliath of Gath. 

The postal facilities introduced in the last fifty years have 
been most prolific of changes in our social and domestic life. 
The first, of course, was that of the Penny Post, which was due 
to the perspicuity and enterprise of Sir Rowland Hill. The 
delivery of letters in early days was a very slow, uncertain, 
and costly business. The state of the roads was so bad that 
communication was most difficult and dangerous. Bunyan's 
" Slough of Despond " was probably suggested by his travel- 
ling experience. A causeway or bridle track ran down the 
middle of the road, while the margin on either side was 
little better than a ditch, and being lower than the adjoining 
soil and unmade, received and retained the sludge. The 
authorities were chiefly concerned to preserve the causeway, 
for the mails were carried by runners or postboys on horse- 
back. The maximum speed for the post boys allowed by the 
master of the posts, was 7 miles an hour, there was no author- 
ised minimum, and the speed, including stoppages, rarely 
exceeded 4 miles an hour. 

The postman in the beginning of the 16th century made 


his presence known by blowing a horn whenever he delivered 
letters from the court, but in silence when only from private 

Whenever particularly urgent the writer had to state in 
the letter the time when sent out and the letter carrier was 
warned on the cover to make speed with the words, " Haste 
post, haste," and this was no formal endorsement, but an 
urgent appeal to the lazy postboy to hurry up. " Ride, 
villain, ride — for thy life — for thy life," was a still more 
urgent appeal adopted upon the most important despatches, 
and sometimes this was illustrated with a sketch of a skull and 
cross-bones, and a man hanging from a cross-bar. We have 
an instance of this peremptory order in authentic historical 
records. When, on Sunday, July 22nd, 1588, the Spanish 
Armada was in sight, Sir John Popham in Somerset, sent off a 
letter to Lord Burleigh couched in this identical language. 
" Haste, haste I say ; post haste for thy life, for thy life," 
stating that on Friday the Spanish fleet was discerned making 
for the west to the number of 160 sail, and was encountered in 
fight from one a.m. to three p.m. by Drake and Hawkins 
with their gallant little ships. 

In the reign of Charles II Parliament took cognisance for 
the first time of the Post Office, and passed laws about it. 
The next change was the introduction of the right of sending 
letters free (which of course had been a royal prerogative) by 
all members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament. 
This privilege was much abused, and all sorts of things 
besides letters were allowed by the Post Office authorities to 
be consigned free of charge, as, for instance, fifteen couples of 
hounds going to the King of the Romans with a free pass ; two 
bales of stockings for the use of the Ambassador to the Crown 
of Portugal ; a deal case with four flitches of bacon for Mr. 
Pennington of Rotterdam. 

This kind of franking ceased when the control of the 
packet service passed out of the hands of the Post Office 
authorities. But another abuse crept in instead. Members 
of Parliament signed for letters of their friends in large 


numbers, and gave them franked covers to use ad libitum. 
Sometimes such franked letters were sold ; they have been 
known to have been given to servants in lieu of wages. 
Thousands of such letters also passed through the Post Office 
with forged signatures of members. To such an extent was 
this carried that the number of franked letters increased by 
146,000 in less than 50 years. Measures were introduced of 
various kinds to put a stop to this, but the abuse did not cease 
till Rowland Hill introduced the Penny Post, 1840. 

It was no wonder though that people tried to save their 
pockets by appealing for these franked letters, as the cost of 
postage were so great. The rate for a single inland letter in 
1810 was 4d. for 15 miles ; 5d. for 30 miles ; 6d. for 50 miles ; 
yd. for 80 miles ; 8d. for 120 miles ; I2d. for 400 miles ; and 
so on in proportion. 

So the penny postage must have been a great boon to the 
country people. Before this letters must have been so rare, 
that their relations might be dead and buried long before they 
knew of it. Of course it was long before a post office was set 
up in every village. People had to hire a messenger to bring 
them to the village from the nearest post town. The honour 
of the introduction was, as I said, due to Rowland Hill. It 
had been tried on a small scale in London before, by a certain 
man called Dockwra. Ralph Allen, of Bath, must have his 
meed of praise, for to him was due the extension of cross- 
posts all over the country. 

Ralph Allen was born 1694, and died 1764. He resided 
at Prior Park. It was of him that Pope wrote, " Who did 
good by stealth, and blushed to find it fame." He was at 
one time a post horse letter carrier between Marlborough and 
Bath, earning |d. per mile, and able neither to read nor write. 

The Penny Post, though the chief reform connected with 
the Post Office, was only the first rung in the ladder of postal 
progress. It was followed by the Parcel Post, the Savings 
Bank, the telegraph message, and last, but certainly not the 
least important from a business point of view, the telephone 
call system. The Parcel Post, which includes two branches, 


the book delivery and the parcel proper, has been much used, 
and probably the postmen would say much abused. The 
word fragile was certainly somewhat misunderstood by people 
who sent with this label, boots wrapped in brown paper, a 
plum pudding in a cloth, a basket of fish, a box of butter, a 
York ham, and a roll of blankets. 

Stories relating to the returned letter office, or as it was 
once graphically called, the Dead Letter Office, are very 
amusing. People thought at first that the Postmaster 
General was a sort of undertaker, and the office a kind of 
morgue where they would get information relating to lost 
friends and relatives. 

Mr. Bennett, in " The Post Office and its Story," tells us 
that a lady once wrote thus to the Postmaster : " I, the mother 
of Michael Roach, beg leave to write to you, trusting that you 
will kindly send me the necessary information regarding the 
death of my son, and if dead, you as a gentleman will kindly 
send me an answer to this whether dead or living." 

The pump, and even the scavenger's receptacle and the 
stand pipe, have been used before now by inadvertent people 
as a pillar box, and needless to say, letters there posted were 
never delivered and did not even find their way to the dead 
letter office. It was wonderful how, in those early days, 
simple-minded folk trusted the postal authorities to find out 
their friends, and deliver to them letters which only described 
their relationship and appearance, but gave them no address. 
A letter once came addressed to " my son in London " ; shortly 
after a man called and asked whether they had received a 
letter " from my mother," and he got it. One little girl 
wrote/' To my Mother in Heaven." Surely' no postal authority 
could have had the heart to return that letter. Every 
Christmas, we are told by Mr. Bennett, letters come from 
children addressed to Santa Claus. 

Money Orders have been transmitted through the medium 
of the Post Office for more than a century ; but the easier and 
more handy Postal Order was only introduced in 1881. 

The Post Office Savings Bank has developed more than 


anything else the saving habits of the. poor. Before this, 
except for the Trustees County Savings Banks, they were left 
to the shifty resource of the box under the bed, the stocking up 
the chimney, or the hole dug in the garden. 

The village post office is the rendezvous, intelligence 
department, and information bureau of the community. Here 
parcels are left, addresses are inquired for, notices are posted, 
change is given, and a little gossip thrown in into the bargain. 

In former days, when post-mistresses occupied the 
position now almost always held by a postmaster, and time 
was not so precious, nor the amount of duty so engrossing as 
it is now, a village post-mistress knew all the affairs of the 
parish, being well primed by a diligent perusal of the addresses 
of the various letters lying on her counter. 

But what woulft the village do without such willing, 
kindly men and women as those who now officiate behind the 
counter of the Post Office, and perhaps deal out, not only 
stamps, orders, and letters, but also Wills' Best Navy Cut, 
Cadbury's Cocoa, Lipton's Tea, and lucifer matches. They 
are the acting representatives of Providence to many a 
bewildered visitor, be he a broken-down cyclist, or a labourer 
out of work seeking a situation, or a motorist hunting for the 
nearest garage. To each and all he is affable and communi- 
cative. He will take any amount of trouble for you, never 
loses his temper amidst a thousand and one enquiries which 
assail him so frequently, and gives up part of his well-earned 
Sunday's rest (this is no fancy picture) to help the singing in 
the village choir. Can anyone imagine how village life and 
its social amenities were carried on before the days of the 
village Post Office ? 

Space forbids more than a passing notice and scanty 
eulogium of that thoroughly social institution of rural village 
life, the Friendly Societies. Sprung from the old Roman 
Collegia, the burial society of earliest days, and developing 
into the mediaeval guilds, it has had an evergreen life up to 
modern days, and still bids fair in its renovated age as the 
adopted child of the State in the new Insurance Act, to live 


on through the coming centuries with renewed vitality and 
usefulness. Shorn though it has been of much of its ancient 
pageantry of shepherds' crooks, club banners, trophies of 
flowers, quaint insignia of forester's blue and velvet habits 
of Robin Hood and his merry troop, still its principles of 
thrift, temperance, good fellowship, and social unity remain 
intact, and will ever command the sympathy and support 
of all who desire the prosperity and happiness of our working 
classes. The author cherishes a lively memory of many 
pleasant and interesting meetings of these Societies at which 
he took part, principally for many a consecutive year at 
Horsington, and more recently at Stratton and Radstock, at 
which latter place he had the honour once of taking the chair 
at the Annual Dinner of the " Hearts of Oak Society," when 
he spent a very cheerful evening in congenial company, 
supported by the Rector and the Master of the Ceremonies, 
Mr. Lloyd Harvey. 

Chapter VIII. 


THE place-names of the district are full of interesting 
illustrations of our agricultural industry. Agriculture, 
of course, must take the first place amongst all other 
industries. They all depend upon it, as a child upon its 
mother. Human life now-a-days is so complicated, the 
relations of trade and manufacture in this country are so 
extensive and intricate, the proportion of the people engaged 
in agriculture is comparatively so small, that we lose sight, to 
a great extent, of the primary all-importance of this, the 
mother of industries. We almost fancy we could do without 
it, but all the other products of industry in the country have 
much less direct relation to the necessary conditions of 
life. All the other riches of the world, its gold, its silver, its 
iron, its coal, its precious stones, would be absolutely worth- 
less without the products of the soil which agriculture cares 
for. A universal paralysis of all trade and commerce would 
ensue if the supply of corn failed at the same time in all 
quarters of the globe. The prosperity also of all other industries 
depends considerably upon the success of agriculture, because 
the more the farmer can produce beyond what he requires for 
his own subsistence, the more can he afford to pay for the goods 
supplied by other industrial workers. Also the number of the 
population depends upon that success, because, as Professor 
Rogers says, it does not increase beyond what is the normal 
food of the people. 

No doubt we are not dependent upon our home supply, 
and yet our interest in the success of our agricultural industry 
should be no less keen, because the agriculture of a country is 
the chief home market of a country, and the trade with one's 
fellow countrymen is the safest of all. 

Everything therefore should be done to foster and 
encourage our home agriculture, and no unnecessary burdens 



should be put upon an industry which, while it supplies our 
most essential needs, at the same time develops the bone and 
muscle, the strength and hardihood of our race, as no other 
industry can do. The palmiest days of England's history 
were those when agriculture was the first industry of the 
race. The men who conquered at Crecy, Blenheim, and 
Waterloo were those who were brought up under the industry 
of the plough. 

The plough, of course, has always been the most important 
of all agricultural implements. It has played the first part, 
not only as a technical, but also as a social agent in our 
nation's life. 

The greatest social change that our rural population has 
undergone has been owing to the unfortunate necessity of 
discarding in a great degree the ploughshare and taking to the 
milking stool instead, for its leisure, its intelligence, and its 
cheerfulness has been diminished thereby. 

The plough has had a progressive development like every 
other implement. The first plough was in all probability not 
much more elaborate than that used 50 years ago in the 
Hebrides, and described by Mr. Arthur Mitchell in his book, 
" The Past and the Present." (See illustration on p. 230.) 

This was a foot plough, and consisted of a piece of wood 
with a knee on it, the part on one side of the knee being con- 
siderably longer than the part on the other side, and the two 
forming together an obtuse angle. The longer part may be 
regarded as the handle. The shorter was securely fastened to a 
flat piece of wood, somewhat less than half the length of the 
handle, which was made sharp by a shoeing of iron. Near 
the knee there projected a pin of wood. On this the foot was 
placed and the iron-shod point of the implement forced by it 
into the soil. If the handle was then depressed, the part of the 
implement forced into the soil rose through it and broke up 
the ground as it did so. The work which this caschrom did 
was neither contemptible in quantity nor quality, and there has 
gone brain to its contrivance. Certainly it was the best 
instrument which could have been used for doing the work of 


cultivating the little patches of peaty land which are found in 
the Hebrides. 

The one-stilted plough used in Shetland in 1864 was an 
implement in advance of this, but Mr. Mitchell says it was fast 
going out at that date. 

The Saxon and early English ploughs were usually drawn 
by four oxen, though upon stiff ground they had to employ 
as many as eight. In the South of Europe only two oxen 
were used owing to the much lighter soil. Generally, as we see 
in all early illustrations, the oxen were yoked two abreast. 
They had a rail across their necks to keep them in rank. How 
they were attached to the plough it is difficult to see, probably' 
by rough ropes or thongs. 

" The body of the plough consisted of a solid beam, to which 
two wheels were attached at the front part. Behind this was 
a curved ploughshare or knife, like the blade of a Turkish 
scimitar, the haft going through the beam and standing a 
little above it right through the thickness of the wood. Behind 
the knife-like portion, and at the rear end of the beam, came 
the true ploughshare, of angular form, with sharp, cutting 
point shaved off at an angle from the blade, and having a 
square hole into which the end of the beam was fitted. The 
metal work was then carried up and forked into two horn-hke 
handles, one of which was grasped in each hand by the plough- 
man, who was thereby enabled to steer the plough along its 
proper course." {S.P.C.K.) This, with other small details, 
was the form and mechanism of these ploughs with which the 
acres were tilled, and those ancient furrows or lands made, 
the marks of which remain to the present day. 

A bigger and heavier plough was used often on the 
heavier land, with broader ploughshare. In this there was 
a double set of four oxen yoked abreast, as are the horses in the 
Caruca, so often seen upon Roman coins. 

In some districts of Scotland in former times such ploughs 
were employed, drawn by four oxen, or horses, yoked abreast ; 
one trod constantly upon the tilled surface, another went in 
the furrow, and two upon the stubby or white land. This, 


though it looked awkward, was found to be the only mode of 
yoking by which four animals could best be compelled to exert 
all their strength. In this case, in order to constitute the full 
plough team of eight, there would be a " tandem " of four 
oxen yoked abreast. 

This must have almost necessitated two drivers as well 
as the plougher. 

The ploughman or akerman was an important person, 
and had his acre free of labour in the common field, as long as 
he served his office of ploughman. 

England was a wheat-growing country even in Pytheas' 
days, 350 B.C. Corn, amongst other things was exported 
abroad in Caesar's time. 

The old British farmer was a sufficiently scientific agri- 
culturist to have invented wheeled ploughs, and to use a 
variety of manure as mast, loam, and chalk in particular. 
This treatment of the soil was according to Pliny a British 
invention, and he thinks it worth his while to give a long 
description of the different clays in use, and the methods of 
their application. That most generally employed was chalk 
dug out from pits some hundred feet in depth, narrow at the 
mouth, but widening towards the bottom. These chalk pits 
are just what we find in various parts of England, as Kent, 
Surrey and Essex, which go by the name of Dene holes. The 
Sussex chalk and limestone are quarried by means of exactly 
such kinds of pits. They are also equivalent to the marl pits 
found, elsewhere. Marl and chalk are first cousins, and only 
differ slightly in their composition. The same soil, however, 
was never twice chalked, as the effects were still visible after 
a period of 50 years. 

The effect of the ordinary marl, which had more lime in it, 
was of even longer duration, the benefit being visible, in some 
instances, for a period of 80 years. The stock was much the 
same as that which their successors used for many years after- 
wards : it comprised two varieties of cattle, the Celtic Short 
Horn, •' Bos Longifrous," the bones of which we found in the 
trench in the Rectory Field, and the much larger kind, similar 


to the still existent wild cattle of Gillingham, in Kent. Sheep 
they probably had from as early a date as the beginning of the 
bronze age, also goats, horses and ponies, which they used for 
food as well as for draught. Of course they had fowls and 
pigs ; but, strange to say, fowls were tabooed as eatables, 
and were only allowed to be sacrificially killed by early Celtic 
law. A famous breed of hunting dogs was produced in our 
island. One sort was an awkward, long-bodied, rough- 
haired animal, not much to look at, but excellent at scenting 
out game and tackling it when found. It was probably not 
unlike our modern lurcher, so well known in this district. 
The native name for the kind was Agasseus. Claudian, the 
poet, refers to a more formidable kind used for larger game, 
equal indeed to pulling down a bull. In fact they were a kind 
of boarhound, the same as the Scotch fighting dogs, savage 
brutes of evil odour, to which accordingly controversial 
writers rejoiced to liken their ecclesiastical opponents. 

Corn growing in later days was cultivated under very 
uneconomical principles, yet the supply of corn was so large 
that England was the granary of Europe. Even in Celtic 
days corn was exported in shiploads during the Emperor 
Julian's reign, A.D. 360. 

Probably in earliest days the vast extent of unfilled land 
enabled the inhabitants to pursue a system of extensive 
tillage, that is, to make frequent clearings of arable land in the 
forests, and after reaping the grain, to pass on to new clearings 
in the vast wastes. 

The system pursued in Wales was the same, namely, 
annually to plough up fresh grass land and leave it to go back 
again to grass after the year's ploughing. This was the 
custom also in Germany, so Tacitus says, " Arva per annos 
mutant et super est ager." It was, in fact, the agriculture of a 
pastoral people, who required more feed for their cattle than 
corn crops for their own use. 

This was probably the course pursued also by our 
Teutonic ancestors on their first arrival in Britain. After a 
time, though, they settled permanently on favoured spots, 


and tilled the same land continuously. But this was done 
upon a crude and wasteful principle. Having little manure 
and no knowledge of the system of the rotation of crops, and no 
grasses, very poor oxen and soft ploughshares (iron being too 
costly), they had to give the land frequent intervals of rest, 
and they could only scratch the surface of the soil where it 
was heavy and clayey. An acre a day was the utmost work 
got out of the ox team of eight. They generally worked the 
land upon the three-field system as it was called, that was 
wheat and rye one season, oats, barley, beans and peas the 
next ; then a year's fallow for the land to recover its heart. 
Another name for this three-field system was tilth grain, etch 
grain, and fallow. 

Sometimes they went no further than a two-field system, 
that is, they gave the land a rest every alternate year. So it 
was in Holcombe in the year 1253. We learn this from the 
record of a case brought up at the County Court by one Henry 
de Holcombe who accused Andrew de Stratton of entering 
upon his land when " fallow on the alternate year, and feeding 
his cattle upon the leavings or gleanings." 

But generally, as I have said, the method of cultivation 
was a triennial system. To accomplish this there were always 
three fields, or the multiple of three, under cultivation, so that 
there might not be fallow in any year all round. If the 
fallow was in every second year there would be a multiple 
of two. 

Every year after harvest the fields were thrown open and 
cattle pastured upon the stubble and leavings which would 
be considerable, as they cut the corn very short in the stalk. 
The holdings were meted out in strips or stitches, and might be 
made up of several such strips scattered about promiscuously. 

These strips were in bundles of a furlong or shot each. 
A furlong would be an acre, that is, four strips a furrow long 
and a furrow broad each. Some had more strips than others, 
some less. The acres were divided into halves and quarters. 
The apportionment originally was meted out as the share of 
each person who had contributed to and made up the plough 



of eight oxen. The system originated in Wales, and may 
have been confined to that country. 

The first acre ploughed was to go to the ploughman, the 
second to the irons, the third to the outside sod-ox, the fourth 
to the outside sward-ox, the fifth to the driver, the sixth, 
seventh, and eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh to the other 
six oxen in order of worth, and lastly the twelfth was the 
ploughbote, the maintenance of the woodwork of the plough. 
All these acres and half and quarter acre strips were situated 
promiscuously over the whole field in their several bundles. 

Every acre had its own name to distinguish it, which its 
proprietor well knew. 

Gateacre Radacre Litelpeisacre 

Sullaker Whitacre Pigacre 

Spadacre Gallicar (acre) Heleacre 

Goracre Schoolacre Gooseacre 

Daneacre Etchacre 

Smoke acre, etc., are samples mostly taken from this 
district. These fields were distinguished by a series of names, 
such as Littlefield, Winterfield, Lentfield, Springfield, East- 
field, Westfield, Northfield, according to fancy. We have 
also mention of two fields called Strelfyld and Balefylde, 
which are apparently contrasted in some manner. 

So we have in Kilmersdon, 

| Northfield 
Charlton < Eastfield 
' Westfield 
In Wellow, 

Hassagefield Younder Littlefield 

Eastfield Commonfield 

Hither Littlefield Kingsfield 

In Midsomer Norton we have, 

Westfield Eastfield Wheatfield 

In Holcombe we had probably two common fields, there 
being Dryfield and Littlefields. 

In the typical open field parish of Hitchin in Hertford- 



shire, the fields of which exist in the present day, never having 
been enclosed, there were 

The Purwell fields The Spital field 

The Welshsman field The Moremead field 

The Burford field The Bury field 

Headlands bounded each of the furlongs and gave access 
to the strips. The furlongs were sometimes situated at right 
angles to each other, and small pieces which could not fall into 
line in either furlong, were called No-mans-land. It is some- 
times called Anamansland. 

These open fields in the late autumn must have presented 
an animated and cheerful scene. 

The time of harvest was come, and with it the con- 
summation of the year's work. That work had begun with 
the ploughing of the winter field for. its crop of wheat and rye 
in the previous October. It had been done upon the co- 
operative or co-operation principle, according to which certain 
numbers of the peasants or villeins joined together to provide 
the team of four, eight, or twelve oxen, as the case might be, 
together with the plough irons, which they handed over for 
the time being to the care of the ploughman and the driver, 
who were bound to keep and use them as though they were 
their own, and after use to hand them over to the various 

When the land had in this way been ploughed, the wheat 
and rye for the winter crop was sown. 

Then in February the ploughing and sowing of the spring 
crop of vetches, beans, and peason, as peas were called, or of 
oats and barley was undertaken after the hens, sheep, and 
cattle, which had been feeding on the stubble, were driven out. 

This was followed by the ditching, draining, dressing, 
and manuring of the third of the three open fields, which was 
in fallow. 

During the summer months also, weeding, and dibbling of 
beans, which were sown broadcast, had been occupying both 
men and women, the latter of whom had been reaping the 



stubble left by the shearers and scaring away birds from the 
seed and ripening corn. 

Now had come the reaping of the wheat and rye and the 
mowing of the grass in the meads. Barley, oats, and peas 
were mown as well as grass, and the wheat and rye were 
sheared high up in the stalk with sickles, leaving the stubble 
to be mown later by the women, as before mentioned. At this 
work the whole village would now be engaged daily from dawn 
to noon, while the sun streamed down upon their tanned 

All would be represented there, and a motley crew it 
would be, for not the farmer only and his men would be 
interested in the yearly ingathering as now-a-days, but all the 
cultivators of those various and mingled strips of acres and 
half-acres in the common fields. 

The poet Langland, in his vision of Piers Plowman, 
pictures the scene in his graphic way : " The fair felde was 
full of folke, and all manner of men were there worchyng and 
wandryng " — that is, working and looking on — " some putten 
them to the plough, whilst others in setting and in sowyng 
swonken (sweated) full hard." This, of course was the work 
of the previous months. 

But the toil and the sweat of the brow were needed still, 
and perhaps more, to gather in the harvest, and the interest 
and anxiety would be intensified now that the end was in 
full view. 

So all were out, and all were working and wandering and 
swinking full hard at this trying season. 

The husbandman, reaper, mower, bailiff, and reeve were, 
of course, there, but men of other occupations also, as the 
carpenter and smith, and pound keeper, and even the village 
veterinary, or leech, for all these were paid, not in money, but 
in acres upon the common field. # 

Here also would be seen the butcher and the brewster 
and the baker, the wool-webster and the weaver of linen, the 
tailor, the tinker, the mason, with Daw the diker and Mike 
the delver, for had they not been employed, too, by the 


village community in work upon those balks and head- 
lands which divided and surrounded the acres and the 
furlongs ? All these would be amongst the folk who had 
worked and laboured since early dawn in those harvest 

Welcome then to all such would be the advent of the vil- 
lage cook, crying," Hote pies, hote," and the tavern keeper with 
his trays full of cups of mead and mugs of small beer at id. 
gallon. Likely enough another familiar face would now 
appear, that of the Parson of the parish Sir John, timing 
his visit at the hour of lunch, and accompanied by his good 
dog Tray, for he, too, had his interest and share of 7J acres in 
those open fields. Passing rich was he upon £40 a year, and 
perhaps he knew but little of Aristotle's ethics and the works 
of Thomas Aquinas. Langland (but he is apt to be too hard 
upon the priests) gives him little credit for knowing even his 
Pater Noster, and says he could neither chant nor sing, nor 
read saints' lives, but only knew the rhymes of Robin Hood, 
and " how to find a hare in a furlong." 

May be the poet was right, and had there been a hare in 
the brakes, the parson would soon have located it and turned 
it out and set his lurcher upon its tracks, gathering up the 
skirts of his cassock and following it to the cry of " Sohe 
Soho, hie there good dog, good dog." 

But the messor at last sounds his horn as the signal that all 
should cease their labour and their gleaning for the day. He 
had sounded the same horn in the early morn as the signal for 
their entering each into his own acres, and now they must 
depart or be subject to a fine of sixpence each. 

Off they go, then, homewards with glee, carrying the last 
sheaf, or an image called the Kern Baby, dressed up with 
flowers and garlands ; homewards to the village and the lord's 
hall, where is held the Mell-feast, — so called because all, 
high and low, young and old, are mingled (French mesler) 
together, — at which they will be regaled with broth, bread 
and cheese, ale and furmity, and will be allowed a candle, 
if they choose, to sit awhile over, I was going to say, 


their pipes, but, alas, tobacco was not then known, so I must 
say their chat. 

This is not a fancy picture of agricultural work in the 
open field, but is drawn to the life. The marks still remain 
engraven upon the land, of these ancient methods of farming, 
and plentiful allusions to it illustrate its character. 

At the present day we can observe traces of the ancient 
furlong strips in ridges and furrows which run parallel, and 
which are marks impressed upon the sod by the ploughs of 
generations of rustics from the Norman conquest, as for 
instance, in this parish in the field now called the Orchard, 
but formerly " Barley Ground," on Moor's Farm. 

Of course the land has been more than once laid down to 
pasture and then ploughed up again, as was done during the 
Napoleonic war with France, when land that had been deserted 
by the plough, was ploughed up again, and again let to revert 
to pasture for dairy farming or sheep breeding. This is the 
undoubted explanation of much ridge and furrow that is now 
pasture. Some such lands as they are called, may be still 
seen in parts of England, which are undoubtedly 700 years 
old. This goes back to the time of the " Black Death," 
which caused so much arable land to go out of cultivation 
owing to lack of ploughmen, and to revert to pasture, as 
testified by the fact brought to light by Mr. Rider Haggard 
that oaks of that age are still standing where the plough 
passed before they were seedlings. The length of the ridge, 
a furrow long, represents the length of the drive of the plough 
before it is turned. 

In driving the oxen, the driver, who walked backwards 
in front of his team, would use an ox goad, a long rod shod 
with iron, with a sharp point with which the oxen were 
pricked to hasten their pace. 

The sublime utterance which stopped the persecutor Saul 
on his way to Damascus, " It is hard for thee to kick against 
the pricks," contains an allusion to this practice of using a 
goad in ploughing. The most convenient length of the goad 
to enable the ploughman to reach his oxen, while holding the 


plough-handle, was sixteen and a half feet, the conventional 
length of the rod, pole, or perch. So we can easily see how 
this ox goad came to be used as a land measure, the plough- 
man laying his goad on the ground at right angles to his first 
furrow to measure the breadth of the land he had to till, four 
of these lands or roods making his acre or his day's work. 

This system of open field farming was a remarkable 
arrangement, and when we think of all its inconvenience and 
wastefulness, we can hardly imagine how it survived so long. 
The complaints as to its wastefulness were universal. 

" Never," says Arthur Young, writing in about the year 
1770, " were more miserable crops seen than all the spring 
ones in the common fields — absolutely beneath contempt." 

The disadvantages were that so much time was lost in 
travelling to many dispersed pieces of land, from one end of a 
parish to another ; that perpetual quarrels arose about rights 
of pasture in the stubbles and respecting boundaries ; that in 
some fields there were no balks to divide the plots, and men 
would plough by night to steal a furrow from their neighbours, 
and that the tenants were obliged, if they would secure the 
fruits of their labour to themselves, to keep exact time in 
sowing and reaping, or to suffer the damage and inconvenience 
that must attend the lazy practice of those who sowed un- 
seasonably and allowed their corn to stand to the beginning 
of winter. 

Besides all this the land could never be sufficiently 
ploughed since it usually lay in long strips, and some shots 
were at right angles to others, so there could be no cross 
ploughing, nor could it be harrowed or cleansed from weed. 
As it was thrown open to all tenants and villagers after harvest 
time it could rarely be manured after it had been cropped. 
In fact, this common field system, which was one of a con- 
tinuous carrying off of corn with no other aid than fallowing 
and a little light manure, as soot and so forth, had worn itself 
out by the end of the 15th century. The only good manure 
found its way to the lord's demesne lands, on which the tenants 
were bound to fold their sheep, except they had the privilege 


of the "Jus Falde," and to which the dung from the dove- 
cots was carried by the tenants as one of their special services. 
" So the acre stripes," says Mr. Denton, " became more and 
more impoverished as time went on." The clays struck work, 
and exhaustion set in upon the light and sandy soils ; then 
necessity forced on the much needed change. The land was 
sown down to grass and the arable was converted into sheep 
pastures. Then it had its sabbath of rest. " The chief part of 
the 16th century was one long fallow for the old exhausted 
arable lands, and when increasing population led to the 
breaking up again of the pastures, and the farmer returned 
again to tillage with improved methods of agriculture taught 
him by the thrifty Flemmings, the land, after so long a rest, 
began to yield at last her increase." It no longer returned only 
8 bushels an acre, but 18 ; as now it yields nearly 30. It had 
sprung into new life and vitality. Its productiveness injihe 
18th century was four times that of the 13th. Tusser realised 
the advantages of enclosure, and wrote of Essex in the 16th 

century : — 

" All these doth enclosures bring, 

Experience teacheth no less ; 

I speak not to boast of the thing, 

But only a truth to express. 

Example, if doubt ye do make, 

By Suffolk and Essex go take." 

But however needful the change was, it was resented 
much by the people, and complaints were great and came from 
all quarters. Sir Thomas More, in his Utopia, censures the 
noblemen and gentlemen who left no ground for tillage, and 
turned all into sheep walks. Bishop Latimer, in his last 
sermon before Edward VI, speaks much in the same strain. 
Aubrey, too, the Wiltshire historian, in 1550, says the country 
was then a lovely campaign, with very few enclosures except 
near houses. " My grandfather, Lyte," he says, " did 
remember when all between Cromhalle and Castle Coombe 
was so." When the Bishop of Bath and Wells enclosed part 
of the waste of his manor of Cheddar we are told that armed 
persons, many in number, both horse and foot, assembled, 


and broke down the obnoxious enclosures as they did in the 
days of Henry the Seventh. Yet the amount of enclosed 
land was by no means large enough to warrant all these out- 
cries and opposition, considering the great advantages accru- 
ing to agriculture. Toward the close of the 17th century half 
the land of England was still uncultivated. From Abingdon 
to Gloucester, for instance, a distance of 40 to 50 miles, there 
was not a single enclosure, and scarce an enclosure between 
Biggies Wade and Lyncoln — so says Macaulay, Chapter 3. 
Leland, who wrote an itinerary of England in Henry VII I's 
reign, tells us that he rode from Midsomer Norton to Mells 
over land which was all champagne country, that is, open like 
the Campania of Italy, and only grazed by wandering herds of 
cattle, under a cowman, paid by the various owners. This 
open country must have included part of Kilmersdon, Babing- 
ton, Stratton, and Holcombe. Billingsley tells us that in 
1794 11,550 acres of land on Mendipwere still unenclosed, as 
against 13,600 enclosed ; and yet he tells us that the value of 
the waste land in its open uncultivated state was not more 
than 3/- an acre, and that when enclosed, cultivated, and 
manured with lime, its value would be advanced to 15/-, 
20/-, 30/- per acre. 

The custom of unenclosed land was not confined to the 
Mendips. We find, from the report of Mr. Thomas Davis, of 
Longleat, Wilts, Steward to the Marquess of Bath, that 
even in 1794 much land was still cultivated upon the open 
field system or "in Tenantry," as it was called, in con- 
tradistinction to severalty ; in fact, that a full half of 
the manors in his district were still subject wholly, or in 
part, to the same absurd customs of commonalty as they were 
two hundred years before. 

In 1843 we read, that though nearly 7,000,000 acres had 
been enclosed since 1760, yet through considerable districts 
this agrarian system of the middle ages still existed in full force. 
So true is it that old customs die hard. 

But the objections to these enclosures arose, as the Com- 
missioners found in later years, from a deep-rooted objection 


to change, and not from any just economical principle. The 
objectors were like the Luddites in the early part of the last 
century, who combined to break the machines used for lace- 
making, or those who later on destroyed threshing machines. 

The Indian farmer of the present day is just another 
example of the same pig-headed objection to all change ; as 
a friend tells me, if you give him an iron ploughshare he will 
put it aside and use the old wooden one. 

There are people who always act upon the principle of the 
garbled text I saw once upon the gallery of an old church : — 
" Fear God, honour the King, and have nothing to do 
with those who meddle with change." 

This is, indeed, conservatism run wild. 

Besides enclosures, other improvements in agriculture 
took place in the latter part of the 18th century. Turnips, 
which^probably were introduced in garden ground as early as 
1645, were used for fattening cattle as well as for feeding lean 
sheep. The hand-hoeing of turnips, first mentioned as a field 
crop in 1694, began to be practised at this time. Potatoes 
also, which jWere only garden crops at the beginning of the 
same century, were now planted in the fields. 

Farmers also had begun to use drilling machines and drill 
ploughs and horse-hoes instead of sowing the seed broadcast. 
Clover husbandry became universal from one end of England 
to another. 

So on all accounts the last half of the 18th century saw 
the rise and progress of a new era of agricultural development 

Another occupation of the farmer must be noticed. Pig- 
breeding has always been a subsidiary industry in agricultural 
districts. The pig is a save-all and a useful scavenger, and in- 
valuable upon a dairy farm where milk is not sold away. 

As the Irish say, " He's the gentleman that pays the 
rint," and no doubt the pig is a great save-all and the cot- 
tager's security with his tradesman. 

The pigstye, no doubt, has its objections. It certainly 
does not smell of " Myrrh, Aloes, and Cassia," nor is it the 
incense of Somerset, as Sir F. Treves says the cow is of Dorset. 


As long, however, as it is kept at a distance from any house, 
it is a desirable adjunct to the labourer's cottage. In one 
Wiltshire village, Woodford by name, they have a pig insur- 
ance society, and for the small payment of Jd. per week, all 
risk and loss in pig keeping is removed. The rules of the 
society are drawn up in the vernacular of the members, and 
read as follows : " Our Society is in case of a member should 
have a pig die with the swine fever or any unnateral death, 
so as to receive the worth of the pig out of the Fonds of this 
Society. We are cheefly agriculteral laberers." 

Pigs were often scurvy and leprous owing to their unclean 
habits. Tusser, in the " Farmer's Poetical Almanac," recom- 
mends that their flesh, when thus unfit for his countrymen's 
food, should be cut up, salted, and sent to the Flemings ! 

" Thy measeled bacon-hog, sow, or thy boar. 
Shut up for to heal, for infecting thy stoie, 
Or kill it for bacon, or souse it to sell, 
For Flemming that loves it so daintily well." 

Pigs were fed upon brewers' grains, of which there were 
plenty, as many peasants brewed their own ale, and that 
without hops to keep it good, so the supply of barley dregs 
was plentiful and continuous. 

Poultry farming, too, was universal. Fowls and eggs 
were the commonest form of rent. The Lords of Manors 
wanted many fowls for their hawks and falcons. Every 
Cottager, besides supplying the lord's larder, had always a 
fowl in his pot, and capons, fatted in coops, were double the 
price of fowls. They must have been very plentiful, as capons' 
grease, a costly lubricant in these days, was used for cart 
wheels and sheep dressing. 

But the villager had also work to do in the meadows. 
The meadows were very valuable for the hay crop. The word 
meadow or mead is derived from Anglo-Saxon " Mawan," to 
mow, and means land which is frequently laid down to grass 
for that purpose. These fields were, of course, very much 
valued, and were generally found mostly situated upon the 
lord's demesne. 


Water meadows also were found there exclusively ; when 
thus situated they were often called Hams. In the entire 
absence of all artificial grasses and winter roots this kind of 
land bore a very high rent. It was very seldom mown. 

Other meadows were called Lammas meads, because from 
Lammas day, August ist, till Candlemas, they were thrown 
open to the villagers as pasture, having previously been 
enclosed and laid up for the hay crop. When the hay was 
cut they were called Doles, being let by lot as the "acres" 
were in the arable. They came, therefore, to be called Dole- 
meads. The quaint methods of allotment have been described 
in another chapter. 

Then there were the pure pasture grounds. These had 
been open spaces cleared in the forest for cattle to lie down in, 
from the word liegan, Anglo-Saxon, to lie down. This term 
is found still in old field names. We had our great Lyes and 
little Lyes at Horsington. Such names as Leigh-on-Mendip, 
Lea, and Ley are common. The word Lease comes from this. 
Laesu is pasture. Wickliff has it in the New Testament, 
" A flock of many swine lesewynge." 

Oxenleaze is another form of the same word, but though 
it seems absurd, has nothing to do with oxen, but really means 
Oaksleigh, from Ac and Ok, the oak. It was first Ocley, then 

Now we come to another occupation which employed the 
farmer in early days, viz., the breeding and rearing of sheep. 
In the Somerset Record Society's proceedings we find that 
" Robert de Gurnay granted to the master and brethren of the 
Knights Templars to hold of Robert and his heirs in frankal- 
moin, free of all services and exactions common of pasture on 
Mendip for one thousand sheeps and sixty animals." 

Nothing could compete with English wool in those days. 
Spanish was coarse compared to it, and the wools of Saxony 
had not come into the market. Our moist climate suited the 
growth of wool, and the wool of the western shires for the same 
reason was the best. 

In those days wool was king, as now-a-days cotton is in 


many districts, and coal is in our Black Country — Old King 
Cole. The woolsack upon which our Lord Chancellors have 
sat since the earliest days speaks for the ancient dignity of 
this, the staple product of England in mediaeval times. 

The Order of the Golden Fleece in Germany and Spain 
was worn by kings and emperors. 

Wool was largely exported to Flanders, and our peaceful 
relationships with that country and with France depended 
upon its supplies being furnished in due course. It was so 
invaluable to the foreigner that he paid an export duty to us 
of ioo per cent, upon the ad valorem duty. The wars of 
Edward III were paid by wool subsidies. Peter's Pence was 
paid by it to the Pope of Rome. 

In 1340 30,000 sacks of wool were granted for the French 

" The ribs of all nations throughout the world," says 
Matthew Paris, as quoted by Smiles, " axe kept warm by the 
fleeces of English wool." 

This wool came back to England in the shape of cloth, 
which was a losing business, till the Flemings were brought 
over by our Plantagenet kings to teach us their trade. 

Under Henry I and Edward III the peaceful and useful 
industry of cloth manufacture was set up respectively in South 
Wales and East Anglia. Norfolk and Suffolk were for cen- 
turies the Yorkshire of the time. 

The familiar words, worsted, lindsey wolsey, kerseymere, 
are survivals of the place names of villages where these 
Flemish weavers set up their looms and combed and carded 
and dyed our wool into a cloth such as could vie with that 
made in their own cities in Flanders. 

But though so valuable, the wool we produced was but 
scanty owing to the undersized breed of our sheep. It only 
came upon an average to i lb. 7 oz. to the fleece, while in the 
18th century the wool came up to nearly 5 lb. to the fleece. 

The sheep were subject to many diseases, which our fore- 
fathers called by the general name of murrain. The rot made 
the most serious ravages. A new disease, called the sca'q 


showed itself in the latter part of the 13th century. The 
sheep were hardly ever folded in the open, but kept indoors 
from October to June, for the breeders were afraid of all fogs 
and mildew. They were fed on coarse hay, peas, and vetches ; 
turnips were unknown. The regular remedy for all diseases 
of the sheep was tar, the shepherd was never without his tar- 
box. The shepherd feared a certain kind of snail, and it has 
been found that the fluke is carried by a certain white snail. 
If so, the sheep must have suffered in this district, where so 
many snails abounded, as we see by the field names. 

The shepherd and his dog had to be out by night and day, 
and sleep with the sheep in the fold. He was allowed the 
milk of the sheep which had no lambs living. 

" He ought to have two lambs of the best, and an acre of 
land in the common fields to sow with his own seed, and his 
dog a cup daily of new drawn whey from Hocktide to August. 
He had to find a milkmaid and a dog." The milkmaid was 
called a Deye. He must not leave his sheep, we are told, to 
go to fairs and markets and wrestling matches, wakes, or the 
tavern, lest any harm should come to his flock. 

We had sheep in Holcombe, as the place name Shearcroft 
shows us. " The sheep bred in this district were the native 
Mendip breed," says Billingsley, " a sort which will thrive on 
the poorest soil and fatten on such land as will scarcely keep 
other sheep alive. Pasturage ever so dry and exposed will 
feed this kind ; they are very hardy and their wool fine. The 
mutton also is excellent for the table, being full of gravy and of 
a rich flavour." 

In the West of England, occupied as it was with the 
production of the finest cloths, or medleys as they were 
called, the Cotswold, native, and Isle of Wight sheep 
could not be used as their wool was inferior to the 
best Spanish wools, but " under the auspices of the Bath and 
West of England Society," King George III was graciously 
pleased to present a new breed of sheep lately introduced 
from Spain, says Billingsley, " which bid fair to excell all 
others of equal size in quantity and quality of wool, but I 


shall not be too warm in recommendation till experience has 
confirmed their superiority. More sheep would be kept in 
this district were it not for the disposition of the land to bring 
the foot-rot, which the marl land particularly is liable to 

Professor Thorold Rogers says that Somerset wool was 
rated at 80/- per sack in 1484, the measure of weight at 
Cheddar being the pound, while that at Wiveliscombe was the 

Wool was a favourite form of bequest in former days. 
The system of the wool industry was for the spinner to buy the 
raw material in the market and to return it in a week to the 
weaver in the form of yarn, who, in his turn, supplied the 
clothier with the web at so much per yard. Previous, how- 
ever, to all this, the wool had been combed and burled and 
carded by another earlier set of workers in order to clear it 
from all burs and knots and impurities of various kinds. 

This, as an old inhabitant of Holcombe has told me, 
was done in their homes at Hambridge a hundred years ago 
by a considerable population of men and women. 

It was also done by sets of men (generally four) who 
worked in their own or in each other's houses wherever it was 
practicable to set up a pot, which was a charcoal stove, in 
which their combs were kept constantly heated, which was a 
necessity of the process. At Ham Mill, I am told that a small 
shed was erected by Mr. Lucius Tapp, where these charcoal 
stoves were provided for the people of the cottages around 
employed in this business of combing and carding the wool. 

Then there was the further process of dyeing the wool. 
Here again it appears that there was a small dye-house on the 
stream at Ham Mill, under the superintendence of the same 
Lucius Tapp. The field on which it stood bears the name of 
the Dyouse. 

Frome was famous for its dyeing houses, and the river 
was polluted by the dye. 

Wool was transported over the country on packhorses 
rather than by wheeled conveyances, owing to the bad state of 


the roads. These packhorses were furnished with pack- 
saddles and panniers, and travelled in long files of 40 or 50, 
the leading horse having bells attached to its head to signal 
the route. The packhorse lanes may still be traced in various 
places, as, for instance, at Holcombe, where a regular paved 
way between high hedges runs from Pitcot to Edford and was 
the collier's way of later years ; another passed over the pack- 
saddle bridge at Coleford, and wound its way between hedges 
to Leigh, and from thence to the lower part of the county. 
This was also how corn was carried in earlier days, and coal 
later on, and the panniers and sacks never came back empty, 
but brought a cargo in them which had probably never paid 
excise duties. Considerable sums of money were realised by 
the proprietors of these trains of packhorses, and this method 
of merchandise. The ancestors of well-to-do people in Hol- 
combe were, if tradition says true, representatives of these 
itinerant merchants, and one of the Padfield family kept these 
horses in an old stable opposite the Wesleyan Chapel. 

Various implements were employed in the process of cloth 
making, such as combs, cards, shears, teasel brushes, and 
tenters. All cloths had to be sealed and searched for 
proper quality and length by an officer called an Alnager. 

He was by no means popular, and on one occasion a 
certain Thomas Menton, an Alnager who attended Philips 
Norton Fair, was set upon, mobbed, and mortally wounded 
by the populace. 

Tucking Mills, as the fulling mill was called in Somerset, 
were to be found on most streams in this district, and the 
Towker, Toukar, Tooker was as common a name amongst us as 
the Webber and Comber, or Combs. 

But grazing and mining began early in the 18th century 
to dispute the field with the wool trade, and the want of 
capital to renew and replace their antiquated machinery 
handicapped the clothiers, and by-and-bye ruined the trade 
altogether, and the flourishing towns of Frome, Bradford, 
Shepton, and Pensford, had either to adopt new industries 
or to fall into decay. 


The system of agriculture I have sketched out lasted well 
into the 17th century. No great change took place from the 
old three-field or two-field system of open farming till then, 
nor was agriculture much improved. 

There was only one direction in which English agriculture 
took a step before the 17th century. This was in the cultiva- 
tion of the hop. The use of hops was borrowed from the Low 
Countries, and was introduced into England in Henry VIII's 
reign. It was taken up by the legislators in 1552. 

But at the beginning of the 17th century a very important 
progress in agriculture took place. We learnt the method of 
the true rotation of crops from the Hollanders. That enter- 
prising, thrifty, brave, enlightened people discovered and 
perfected the system of using the fallows for roots, and so 
making use of the land without impoverishing it, and driving 
away scurvy and leprosy, and increasing the population of the 
country, and improving immensely the size and weight of 
cattle and sheep. 

This started a new era of progress in the history of 
agriculture, and this was followed in the 18th century by the 
extension of artificial pasture and the cultivation of artificial 
grasses, as sanfoin, clover and rye grass. 

These seeds^had been known before, and even hops used 
for salads, but they were not regularly cultivated till the later 
dates named, and the extension of the cultivation was of slow 
development, but the start was made and continually followed 
up. It was pursued as a pleasure or hobby almost as much 
as a business by the English nobility and gentry of the 18th 
century. Good George III by a curious piece of pleonasm 
called Farmer George — which is Farmer Farmer — set the 

Farming was as frequent a topic as hunting and shooting 
and racing. Well-to-do amateurs spent heaps of money upon 
new experiments upon scientific methods, with more or less 
s access. 

Mr. Billingsley, a former resident at Ashwick Court, who 
wrote a survey of Somerset in 1797, tells us of a wealthy 



gentleman from the North, who spent much time and money 
in carrying out practical improvements upon the poor and 
barren land in Kilmersdon. This gentleman, I suppose, was 
the same enterprising landlord who turned the barren site of 
Ammerdown from a wilderness into a sunny park. 

" In the parish of Kilmersdon," he says, " there is a 
species of soil usually called sandstone grit of a light brown 
colour, stiff, clayey, and abounding in stone. Underneath, at 
various depths, is to be found a blue marl, which on repeated 
trials has not been found hitherto to communicate any 

These lands are sometimes devoted to tillage, but are 
soon exhausted and left to poverty, and rest for 7 or 8 years, 
when a similar course is resumed. The present value is 5/6 
an acre. Then he tells us that a Mr. Walwyn (a name still 
perpetuated in our field names) fifteen years ago, " tried san- 
foin in this soil. The produce from mowing four or five years 
successfully averaged 20 per cent, per acre. It has raised the 
rentable value of the land to 12/- or 14/- per acre." He 
laments the fact that this example was not followed in the 
neighbourhood, although surrounded by many hundred acres 
of the same quality. " However," he continues, " a gentle- 
man of large fortune and proprietor of the greater part of this 
barren district in the same parish, has for two or three years 
past attempted its amelioration by summer fallows and 
turnips, to some parts of which he gives four or five ploughings 
and harrowings. Its texture is already considerably loosened. 
Barns, stalls, and farmyards are provided on a large scale in a 
situation to command the whole. Sand and coal ashes are 
easily procured near at hand. There is," he says, " little 
doubt but that in the course of time he will be able, in no 
trifling degree, by a judicious system of cropping, to fertilise 
this very intractable soil." The prophecy has, I believe, 
come perfectly true. 

Here is an illustration of that taste for farming and 
interest in agricultural science which characterised our 
nobility and gentry in the 18th century and early part of the 


19th, and which culminated in the establishment of the 
Royal Agricultural Society, The Bath and West of England, 
and other excellent societies. 

They began to adopt scientific methods instead of old 
rule of thumb. Marling was again adopted in the 18th 
century, and was, relatively speaking, less costly than it was 
in earlier days when it cost half the fee simple of the land. It 
was used in this neighbourhood in 1780, and extensively in the 
parishes of Midsomer Norton, Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Kil- 
mersdon, Radstock, Stone Easton, Binegar, and Chilcompton, 
where the land was so barren that when in common field in 
1700 the lands were not let for more than 3/6 per statute acre. 

In this soil an inexhaustive store of black marl was 
constantly found at a variable depth, by the use of which the 
rent of land was increased to £1 us. 6d. per acre and more ; 
and this, too, with a liberal allowance of profits to the tenant. 

" This valuable manure was raised in the summer at the 
average depth of about 7 or 8 fathoms by sinking a pit or 
shaft of 4 feet diameter, with sides secured by timber props 
and wreathing of brushwood, and was drawn to the surface 
by windlass and buckets." 

Marl grass is here the spontaneous production of the land 
which contains this substratum of marl. It was noticed and 
collected in 1730, by a Mr. James, who lived on a farm be- 
longing to the Marquis of Bath at Chilcompton. He took 
care to preserve and propagate the seed till it became common, 
" and has been considered," says Mr. Billingsley, " ever since 
such a valuable substitute for red or broad clover, to which it 
bears a striking likeness, with this difference, it will continue 
much longer in the land." 

" When this marl land is laid down to grass, trefoil or 
white double clover is sown in the proportion of 7 lbs. to 20 of 
marl grass or broad clover, which produces a carpet the most 
beautiful and picturesque that can well be imagined." 

Some minor products of this soil were cultivated in former 
days. Flax was one. Flax furlong was the name of a plot 
in Kilmersdon. Vlex Pits and Vlex Shops were common- 


place names in many parishes. The pits were used for soaking 
the flax, and the Vlex shops for hackling and drying it. 
In almost every village where the soil permitted, flax was 
raised for the hall and hemp for the coarse underclothing of 
the labourers and small farmers, as also, of course, for ropes 
and sail-cloth. 30,000 persons were engaged in Somerset, 
Wilts, Hants, and Dorset in the linen trade in the early part 
of the 19th century, five out of every seven being spinners. 
Dowlass was a speciality of Wincanton and district. 

Woad also was raised in some places. A good deal was 
produced in the parish of Keynsham, and it generally was 
much esteemed. " The soil," we are told, " must be good and 
strong, and it delights much in a fat loam of a dark colour, 
which must have so much sand, as to admit of easy pulverisa- 
tion. " Its use is in dyeing, to form the ground of the indigo 
blue. Though a profitable crop, it exhausts the land ex- 
ceedingly, and two crops must not be taken successively. 
Severe restrictions were placed upon the woad industry in 
Elizabeth's reign (1587). It could not be grown within five 
miles of any town or residence. Only 40 acres could be grown 
in a parish. 

Woad, like wool, was often left as a bequest in wills. A 
woad vat, a pipe of woad, a bale of woad, are often found in 
them. The woad or wad- man carried on his business travelling 
from place to place, growing the woad on newly broken pasture 
land, for which very high rents were paid. He seldom 
stayed more than two or three seasons in one spot, moving to 
fresh pastures when the soil became exhausted. In fact, he 
was a kind of itinerant squatter. Woad, we are told in the 
"Victoria County. History," was valued at the close of the 
18th century at from £6 to £30 a ton. 

In 1750 woad was largely cultivated at Mells, and there 
was in the parish a horse mill for grinding, and sheds for 
drying it, owned by Harvey the Woadman. The name Wad- 
man, so well known in Horsington and the district around, 
probably sprang from this occupation. 

I think it is likely that it was grown and worked up in 


Holcombe, as the words glass-house and glasses may refer to 
this plant rather than to the article commonly so called ; 
woad being called glass in Anglo-Saxon. 

These small local industries have died out, and others 
have not yet been found to take their place. A project of 
cultivating beet for sugar is on foot, but hitherto the Conti- 
nental bounties on the cultivation of this product have greatly 
precluded the possibility of growing it and manufacturing it 
into sugar in this country. 

If fair play were accorded us, this industry could be 
carried on profitably, and the £14,000,000 sterling, which we 
pay annually to our neighbours abroad for sugar, might be 
saved for our colonies and our own country. 

So with the growth of flax and hemp. It has been tried, 
and with noted success, to grow these things of late years, and 
only failed because the nearest market was Belfast, 500 miles 

In 1897 3,000 acres in the Eastern Counties were being so 
cultivated, and as we pay the foreigner, first and last, 
£18,000,000 for these articles, it appears that there is a 
prospect for the future prosperity of this industry if only a 
little protection were allowed our farmers. 

It is certainly desirable to give these small industries a 
trial. We want to get as much out of the land as we can 
without impoverishing it. It is in the direction of small 
industries, and not of arable farming, that we must hope to 
make farming pay in the future. Foreign competition is so 
considerable, and the facilities and speed of transport from 
Canada and the United States so great also, that we are cut 
out of the market for home grown products on arable land. 

The only ways in which English farmers can meet foreign 
competition is by producing those articles of consumption for 
which there is an immense demand in this country, but which 
will not bear the delay of distant transport, and which cannot 
therefore, be brought from the distant agricultural lands at a 
profit. Such articles are fresh milk, butter, eggs, fowls, green 
vegetables, the more delicate sorts of fruit, such as straw- 



berries and raspberries, all the articles, in fact, which are 
produced by the modern dairyman, poulterer, and market 

To do this profitably there must be combination, not to 
corner the market and drive others off the field, but to buy 
artificial manures at wholesale prices, and send the goods to 
collective depots and dairy factories, and to unite in resisting 
all vexatious imposts and unreasonable restrictions. 

On these lines, and on these only, can agriculturists hope 
to hold their own, and make the best use of the great improve- 
ment in machinery, breeds of animals, seeds, and artificial 
manure which have been introduced within the last decade 
of our history. 

"foot "FWcJU 

Development of Plough. (Page 205.) 

Chapter IX. 


THERE are two fields, the names of which date back to 
1664, and which refer to the coal-mining industry. 
They are known as ' Coalclose ' and ' Grove.' The 
latter is significant of mining, a grover or groover being 
the old term for a lead miner on the Mendip Hills, and groof or 
gruffe for a mine. This old industry of lead mining was 
carried on long before coal mining in any real sense of the word 
was thought of. Lead was mined and smelted by the Romans, 
who probably followed on the steps of the early Britons. 

We know also that the Britons trafficked in tin in Corn- 
wall from the earliest period, and that it was bought, if not by 
the Phoenicians, yet at all events by the Greek colonists of 
Marseilles about the middle of the fourth century before 
Christ. Prof. Boyd Dawkins points out that there are several 
place names in Cornwall which seem to be survivals of Phoeni- 
cian nomenclature, being given by Phoenician sailors. Such 
are the River Tamar and the town Tamaris (Tamerton), re- 
calling to mind the Tamaris in Galatea, Uxella (Bridgewater), 
fort, town, village — the Sardinian Usellis and Maltese Casale, 
and the promontory of Herakles (Hartland Point) and Herak- 
lem (Lundy), probably names connected with the worship of 
Herakles or Melkarth. 

There is no doubt also that the Phoenicians were the first 
who traded in tin and kept the knowledge of the places where 
it was to be found a profound secret. They busied themselves 
in all known regions of the world in seeking for the precious 
ore. Its preciousness consisted in this, that bronze at that 
time could only be manufactured from the fusion of tin and 
copper. Weapons of all kinds were made of this compound 
of tin and copper. So jealous were these Phoenicians of their 
knowledge of these El Dorados of tin ore that rather than 
betray the secret, a skipper of Gaddir tracked by a Roman 



merchant-man on his way to the tin islands, ran his ship upon 
a shoal and led his enemies into the same destruction. These 
tin islands were called Cassiterides, from Cassiteros, the Greek 
for tin, which Mr. Elton says appears to be connected with 
Kastira, the Sanscrit name for the metal. He locates them 
somewhere in the Straits of Malacca, the chief source of our 
modern supplies. But the name came to be applied to all 
places where tin was found, and it may have been given to 
the Azores — to the Isle of Ushant, to the Scilly Isles, and other 
islands of the Atlantic ocean and the Bay of Vigo. Spain, 
the Mexico of early days, was famed for its wealth in metals, 
among which tin was no small element. Here the Phoenicians 
traded largely for their metals, and whether they came to 
Cornwall or not (and there is no reliable record of the fact), we 
hear from such indubitable authorities as Pytheas, the great 
mathematician of Marseilles, the Humboldt of his day, 
Posidonius and Strabo, that the Greek merchants of Marseilles 
who superseded the Phoenicians, traded largely with the men 
of Cornwall and Devon, and carried away the tin already 
separated from the ore by smelting in nuggets shaped like 
knuckle bones. The tin was obtained originally, not so much 
from mining as from washing the pebbles of tin which were 
brought down by the streams from the rocks inland. At first 
it was transported by sea in coasting vessels which hugged 
the shore to the Isle of Thanet, and thence by Greek merchants 
to Gaul, through which province it was carried on packhorses 
to the junction of the Rhone and Saone, and thence by water 
to Marseilles. Later on it was carried in waggons across the 
country all the way to the Isle of Thanet, a peninsula at low 
tide ; and there laid up in depots to be handed over to the Greek 
merchants, and by them carried by the previously-mentioned 
route to its emporium at Marseilles. The route chosen was 
probably by Launceston, Exeter, Honiton, Ilchester, Salis- 
bury, Winchester, and Alton, and thence along the pilgrims' 
way, a track along the North Downs to the Isle of Thanet. 
The earlier part of the route is also marked by an ancient 
track, and can be seen almost in its original condition in our 


neighbourhood, near " Alfred's Tower," where it is known as 
the Hardway. We have,. as I have noticed elsewhere, a similar 
Hardway called the Green Lane, which runs from Pitcott to 
Edford, and was part of the route by which the early coal 
traffic was run right down to the centre of Dorset. 

The Romans seemed to have utilised all the natural 
resources of the country from the earliest times. We find 
them in all sorts of out-of-the-way places, carrying on small 
works of industry with the materials they found near at hand. 
They even explored the remote wilds of the Isle of Purbeck 
and the shores of the Dorset coast, and worked the bituminous 
shale found at Kimmeridge, and extracted its mineral oil. 
Also they turned out of the shale all sorts of ornamental 
articles, using lathes which were unknown to the early Celtic 
population for the purpose. Hundreds of discs and cores of 
this shale remain to this day, and are found mixed up with 
Roman pottery from the Wealdon clay of the district. These 
discs have holes bored in them to attach them to the mandrels 
of the lathes, and were the discarded centres of rings and other 
ornaments of shale. Local tradition called them Kimmeridge 
coal money, and very likely the Celts may have used them as 
such, after the departure of the Romans. They could not 
counterfeit them, not knowing the use of the lathe, so they 
would be limited in circulation and currency. 

The old lead miners were an almost unique race, a distinct 
class. They formed in every district where they worked a 
kind of State within the State. They paid taxes on a different 
footing to the ordinary Englishman. Their laws were not the 
laws of the realm, but of their own special Minery courts. 
They might be called out by the king only under important 
restrictions. This peculiar independence of the miner class is 
still their marked characteristic. The coal miners of to-day 
are as much a separate class as were the lead miners of old. 

This peculiar uniqueness of the laws and liberties of the 
old miners of Mendip was illustrated in an interesting occur- 
rence in the reign of Edward IV in 1470, when they were 
established and confirmed and reduced to writing. This was 


owing to certain grievances which the miners complained of 
against the tenants of Lord Bonville, of Chewton on Mendip. 
The mming district was the king's forest, and the miners had 
special privileges granted to them by the King, so to him they 
appealed for redress. He sent down Lord Chief Justice Choke, 
and summoned the four Lords Royal and the Commons to 
settle the matter. There appeared the Lord Bonville, the 
Bishop of Bath, the Lord Richmont, the Abbot of Glaston- 
bury, and the chaplain or prior of Green-ore, who represented 
the miners. Ten thousand persons, we are told, met together, 
and they sat in council at an open place called the Forge, on 
Mendip, near Green-ore. This was an interesting survival of 
the meeting of the old folk-moots, the common assembly of the 
people in Saxon days and before, to settle all matters of 
dispute in the districts or township. Many such were held 
formerly in the open air on any prominent place, or under some 
hoary oak or ash, or at a boundary stone or barrow. 

On the occasion now cited the custom was revived, and 
the old laws of the miners of Mendip were again recited, 
sanctioned, and engrossed. I have in my possession a simple 
and crude vellum map in colours giving the Mendip and the 
Mendip district and all its villages and churches, the four 
claims of the miners, and the roads leading from one 
to the other, and having at the side the laws engrossed 
in old Elizabethan type. (See frontispiece.) They are 
as follows : — " Be it known that this is a true copy of 
the charter enrolled in the king's exchequer in the time 
of Edward IV of a debate that was in the County of 
Somerset, between the Lord Benfield (Bonville) and the 
tenants of Chewton and the Prior of Green-ore, complaining 
unto the king of great injuries that he had upon Mendip, being 
the king's forest. The said King Edward commanded the 
Lord Chock (Choke), the Lord Chief Justice of England, to go 
down into the County of Somerset to Mendipp and sit in 
concord and peace in the said county concerning Mendip, upon 
pain of high displeasure. The said Lord Choke sat upon 
Mendip on a place of my Lord of Bath, called the Forge, where, 


as he commanded all the commoners to appear, and especially 
the four Lords Royal, that is to say, The Bishop of Bath, my 
Lord of Glastonbury, my Lord Benfield, Earl of Chewton, and 
my Lord of Richmont with all the appearance to the number 
of 10,000 people. 

" A proclamation was made to enquire of all the company 
how they would be ordered, then with one consent they made 
answer that they would be ordered and tried by the Royalties ; 
and then the four Lords Royal were agreed that the Com- 
moners should turn out their cattle at the outlets as much the 
summer as they be able to winter without hounding or pound- 
ing upon whose ground soever they went to take their course 
and recourse. 

" To which the said four Lords Royal did set their seals, 
and were also agreed that whosoever should break these said 
bonds should forfeit to the king a thousand marks, and all 
the commoners, their bodies and goods, to be at the king's 
pleasure or command that both either hound or pound. 

" The old ancient occupation of miners in and upon 
Mendipp, being the king's forest of Mendipp, within the 
County of Somerset, being one of the four staples of England, 
which hath been exercised, used and continued through the said 
forest of Mendipp from the time whereof no man living hath 
not memory, as hereafter doth particularly ensue the order. 

" First, that if any man, whosoever he be, that doth 
intend to venture his life to be a working in the said occupa- 
tion, he first of all crave licence of the Lord of the Soyll where 
he doth purpose to work, and in the absence of his officers, as 
the head Reeve or bailiff and the Lord, neither his officers can 
deny him. 

" That if any Lord or officer hath once given licence to any 
man to build or set up any hearth or washing house to wash, 
dense or blow ore, he that once hath leave shall keep it for 
ever or give it to whom he will, so that he doth justly pay his 
cot lead, which is the tenth pound which shall be blown on the 
hearth or hearths, and also that he doth keep it tenantable 
as the custom doth require." 


There were ten such rules, but we need not recount them 
all. The sixth, however, must be stated, as it was the most 
interesting of them all. It enacted that, " If any man of that 
occupation doth pick or steal any lead or ore to the value of 
thirteen-pence half-penny, the lord or his officer may arrest 
all his lead works, house and earth, with all his groofs and 
works, and keep them as safely to his own use, and shall take 
the person that hath so offended and bring him where his 
house is, or his work, and all his tools or instruments which 
to the occupation belongs as he useth, and put them into the 
same house and set fire on all together about him, and banish 
him from that occupation before the miners for ever." 

This particular punishment under item 6 was called the 
Burning of the Bush, and though it may seem peculiarly 
severe, it was so far necessitated by the fact that the miner's 
ore and tools, etc., were left unguarded and exposed, every 
man being put upon his honour not to injure or defraud his 
brother miner. And it was hardly more severe than the 
custom in vogue upon the Peak in Derbyshire. Here, at the 
third offence of stealing of mine, i.e. mineral, the culprit was 
taken and smitten through the palm of the hand with a knife, 
up to the haft into the stoure. " And there shall stand till he 
be dead or else cut himself loose, and then he shall foreswear 
the franchise of the mine." 

The following clause of the mine law record of St. Briavel 
Court, in the Forest of Dean, is interesting. It was for the 
suppression of that pernicious and abominable sin of perjury, 
for which every miner convicted by a jury of 48 miners in the 
said court, "shall for ever lose and forfeit his freedom as 
touching the mines, and be utterly expelled out of the same, 
and all his working tools and habitt be burnt before his face, 
and he never afterwards to be witness in any matter what- 

But the Mendips, or at least the spurs of the Mendips, 
contain other minerals besides lead. They contain coal, and 
have been worked for coal from an early date. 

This district, from Chilcompton to Mells, teems with 


coal, both on the upper range of country, and all through the 
Nettlebridge, Edford, and Coleford valleys. The Romans 
may have found it and worked it, lying as it did upon the 
surface close to the iron stone and lime, which they would not 
be likely to overlook. They knew the use of mineral coal, and 
worked it where the coal was near the surface, as it was here, 
using it in the district where it was found. Mineral coal is 
supposed to have been referred to by Solinus, when he tells 
us that Minerva was the patron of the warm springs in Britain, 
alluding apparently to Bath, and that the fire that burnt on 
her altars did not fall into white ashes, but, as the fire wasted 
away, into stony globules. But a better proof is that cinders 
were found in the flues of Roman houses and villas, and in 
various parts of the island. For instance, a small store of 
unburnt coal was found in the underground flue, or hypocaust, 
of a Roman house in the City of Uriconium, our modern 
Wroxeter, which was burnt down by the Saxons. On the 
station also of the Roman wall of Hadrian the ashes of coals 
have been found, which, though intended to give warmth to 
primitive inhabitants, have been burnt in the grates of modern 

After the Roman occupation of the island the use of coal 
ceases for a long period. It is not likely that the Saxons 
used it for domestic purposes. Wood was used universally. 
The tenants upon a Manor had the privilege of housebote, 
firebote, haybote for buildings, for fences, for burning upon 
the stone or earth hobs in their homes ; coal is not assessed in 
the Domesday Survey, as would certainly have been the case 
had it been a product of the land in constant use. 

We hear of colliers in 1183, but the word probably applies 
to charcoal burners, and not to coal workers. It was not till 
1239 th a * we near °f liberty being granted by the king (Henry 
III) to dig coals at Newcastle-on-Tyne. Shortly after this, 
in 1260, we hear of Walter de Clifford having a licence granted 
to dig for coal in the forest of La Clie in Shropshire, to sell or 
give away. 

The early kings of England were very jealous of any 


infringement of their rights over this forest land where the 
coal lay, and it was not till the Forest Charter that men were 
allowed to break ground on this kind of land. Marsh, moor, 
woodland, knew no master but the king, and the " common 
law " did not prevail on any land but ploughland. 

It was a concession on his part when he gave a licence to 
dig for coal on his forest land. Nor did he contemplate 
anything more than surface digging. 

Coal pits are mentioned at Wednesbury in 1315. 

Robert de Brunne (A.D. 1303) in his " Handling of Sin," 
illustrates mining in general from the practice at the coal pits. 
" Miners they make yn Hyllys holes, 
As in the west country men seek coles." 

Much at least of the coal so extracted was probably 
quarried, rather than mined. 

In 1302 coal was worked and used at Kilmersdon, as we 
learn from a certain inquisition made at the death of Elias de 
Albianaco. The profit of the coal to the Manor estate was 
valued at 2/4 per annum. Up to the reign of Henry VII, 
though mineral coal had for many years been used in several 
countries for smelting iron, copper, lead, and other minerals, 
and for brewing and similar purposes, yet wood was still 
relied upon for domestic use. Though the forest trees were 
being cut down on all sides most indiscriminately, yet the 
prejudice against coal was so great that this destructive waste 
still went on in spite of protest and interdict. 

" If the cutting of wood goes on," was the sad wail of the 
objectors, "it is to be feared that the Fennie botes, broome 
turffe, gall, heath, whinnas, ling dies, hassocks, flags, straw, 
sedge, reed, rush, and also sea-coal (ordinary coal) will be good 
merchandise even in the City of London, whereunto some of 
them even now have gotten ready passage, and taken up 
their vills in the greatest men's parlours." They dreaded, 
we see, the near approach of a time when so undesirable a fuel 
as sea-coal would have to be used. 

It seems a needless fear to us with our nautilus ranges, 
our patent flues, our large chimneys, but it was quite natural 


at that day, when the coal would have to be burnt in the 
centre of the hall or room, upon open fireplaces, with very in- 
sufficient draught, and the smoke must find its way out as 
best it could, and eyes were filled with it, throats choked, and 
walls blackened, and the air smothered. Peat was the only 
compromise made between wood and coal for many genera- 
tions. In fact coal was counted a nuisance, just as our great 
manufacturing towns and our Metropolis count it a nuisance 
now, unless self-consuming, because of its dirt, smell and 

1570 is the earliest date from which the coal trade really 
began to flourish. Harrison, who wrote the description of Britain, 
in Holinshed's ''Chronicles of the 16th Century," speaks of 
the extended use to which it was being put in his day. In 
my copy of his history, dated 1577 (called the Shakespeare 
edition, because so many of the poet's historical allusions are 
taken from this early edition), he says : — 

" Of coal mines we have plenty in the northern and 
western parts of our island, as may suffice for all the realm of 
England, and so must they do hereafter, indeed, if wood be not 
better cherished than it is at present. And to say the truth, 
notwithstanding that very many of them are carried into other 
countries of the maine, yet their greatest trade beginneth now 
to grow from ye forge into ye kitchen and hall, as may appear 
already in most cities and towns that lie about the coast." 

This usage of coal seems to have come down into our 
immediate district. Leland, the English traveller in Henry 
VIII's reign, observes (Vol. VII, p. 106) that " there cometh 
a brook from the coal pits in Mendip, and striketh by south 
into the bottom of Mells, and then runneth into Frome River." 
These are probably the same coal pits mentioned by Camden 
in his " Britannia," who speaks of the Frome as rising in the 
mineral mountains of Mendip, and hastening eastward by 
these pits of coal made use of by smiths as most proper to 
soften iron. He also speaks of a myne of coal within four 
miles of Bristol, where all manner of fuel is cheap. 

Drayton also, in his topographical poem called " Poly- 


olbion," sings of the river Froome as being discoloured by the 
stains of coal from the pits on Mendip by which it flowed, 
because " she did not pay due honour to the renown of Wokey 



' . . . and Froome for her disgrace, 
Since scarcely ever washt the coleflek from her face ; 
But (melancholy grown) to Avon gets a path, 
Through sickness forc't to seek for cure unto the Bath." 

Selden, the learned annotator of this work, says : " Out 
of the Mendip Hills Froome springeth, and through the coal- 
pits, after a short course eastward, turns upward to Bath's 
Avon. The fiction of her besmeared face happens the better 
in that Froome after our old mother tongue signifies fair." 

The former allusion points to the coking works at Vobster 
and Edford. 

The calling of a collier even as late as the end of the 16th 
century, seems to have been looked down upon. " Hang him, 
foul collier," says Sir Toby Belch in the fourth act of " Twelfth 
Night." The same sentiment finds voice also in this dialogue. 
" Gregory, O my word ! we'll not carry coals." " No, for 
then we should be colliers." 

The phrase " to carry coals " then meant to do servile 

At that early date the mining of coal was still imperfect, 
and the methods most primitive to our ideas. George Owen, 
who wrote a memoir upon the working of coal in 1570 or 1595, 
says, " In former tyme they used not engins for lifting up of 
the coles out of the pitt, but made their entrance slope, so as 
the people carried the coals upon their backs along stages, 
which they called landways, whereas now they sink their pitts 
down right four square, about six or seven foote square, and 
with a wyndles turned by four men they draw up the coles, a 
barrel full at once, by a rope they call a downright dore 

Pits were then sunk 70 to 120 feet deep, whereas in 
earlier times 25 feet was counted a great labour. 

Noxious gas (obviously choke damp) was already a source 


of trouble in the mines, and the connection between its 
appearance and the state of the weather had been thus early 
remarked upon. 

" All tymes of the year," says Owen, " are indifferent for 
working, but the hett weather worst, by reason of sodaine 
dampes that happen, which oftentimes cause the worker to 
found, and will not suffer the candells to burn, but the flames, 
blew of colour, will of themselves go out." 

Accidents by choke damp and fire were now rife. 
Philemon Holland, the first translator of Camden's " History 
of Britain in 1610," tells of a fire burning in Peseth Chace in 
Worcester, which is said to have begun "by a candle, long 
since by the negligence of a certain groover or digger. The 
smoke and sometimes the flame was seen, but the scent often 

Dudley refers to the frequent ignition of the small coal 
left undergound by spontaneous combustion ; stating that 
the fire often flamed out of the pits and continued burning 
like Etna in Sicily, or Hecla in the Indies (a mistake for 
Iceland). Water issued, he says, from some of their soughs, 
surfs, or adits as hot as the bath at Bath, and possessed of 
similar curative properties. 

But the days of natural draining by soughs and adits was 
passing away. They were become so long and costly as to be 
getting unworkable. The miners had to win supplies of coal 
below the level of these water-ways or adits, and could only 
meet the difficulty by getting rid of the water by more scien- 
tific ways. 

In those early days the mines were doubtless opened at 
points where seams or veins of the minerals came out to the 
surface, in ravines, and on the sides of hills, and where, con- 
sequently, it was easily discovered and easily worked. They 
would consist, for the most part, of level and horizontal 
galleries known as way-holes, which served both for extracting 
the coal and for drainage of workings. Later on the sinking 
of vertical shafts was resorted to, sites being selected where 
natural drainage could be made available ; and to combat 



the water, the miner's great enemy, tunnels or drifts were cut 
horizontally through the strata from the lower ground for the 
special purpose of draining the workings. These water-ways 
or drains had various designations, in the south being called 
adits or levels. This mining arrangement was called the pit 
and adit system, and was simple and effective as long as the 
work was carried on above the level of the free drainage. 

The working of coal in this district was no doubt carried 
on in this primitive way in the 17th century. Mention is 
made of coal being worked at Stratton at that time. 

Gibson, in his edition of Camden in 1695, speaks of coals 
at Kingswood, Bristol, being as good as Newcastle coal, and 
that in several parts of the adjacent country, as far as Stratton 
and Mendip hills, veins were found of the same coal, which 
afforded strong and cheap fire to all these parts. 

In those days steam engines were, of course, not known, 
and nearly every operation was effected by hard manual 
labour, every pound of coal was drawn to the surface in the 
same simple manner as water is drawn from a well by means 
of " reel and standers." 

The first advance on this method of hauling was the tub, 
a large wheel horizontally fixed on a shaft and drawn round 
its axis by horse power, with which greater quantities of coals 
could be lifted at a time. The tubs were the only engines 
used in the early pits for 200 years, after which the steam 
engine and the tub were frequently seen together. 

Lads were employed at a very tender age, their fathers, as 
the writer has been told at Radstock, carrying the lads some- 
times on their backs to the pits, and in many instances, where 
the lads were timid, putting them into sacks and keeping them 
thus till they reached the bottom of the shaft. They were 
then stripped to the waist, shoes and stockings thrown aside, 
and harnessed with a " tugger." This was made of thick 
rope, with a hook in the end. It passed round the loins and 
between the legs. It was then hooked on to a " hod " or 
" wicker," a sort of box or basket, and thus equipped, the 
boy, crawling on all fours through an extremely narrow 


passage, was compelled to pursue his work of fetching coal 
to the bottom of the pits throughout the whole of the men's 
turn, or day. 

In going up an incline the boys undid their tuggers, and 
pushed their hods along with their heads, which had the 
effect of making them generally bald-headed before they were 
forty years of age. 

The author can sympathise with the trials of those who 
have to work in these old-fashioned pits, having descended 
the one at Holcombe, though he was well repaid by the ac- 
quaintance gained with the workings of a pit of a rather primi- 
tive type, for which experience he was indebted to the kind- 
ness of the proprietor, J. H. Ridler, Esq., and the foreman. 

The mention of the coal pits in Stratton and Mendip is 
corroborated by a deed in the author's possession, dated 1674, 
embodying an agreement between Mr. John Salmon, of 
Holcombe (who occupied the old Manor House, then a farm), 
and Mr. John Tooker, of Norton Hall, to work the Duchy 
land in partnership. This document bears date March 9th, 

In the preamble it is said, " Whereas the said John 
Salmon hath lately discovered and found out certain mines 
of coal or coleworks in certain closes of lands called Plumers 
Piece and Perthill, parcel of the Manor of Stratton-super- 
Fosse, and other places in the said Manor belonging to our 
sovereign Lord King Charles, from which considerable 
advantage might be probably had and raised, and whereas 
the said John Tooker, being desirous to be a partner with the 
said John Salmon," etc., etc. 

John Tooker was to give £10 towards all expenses, being 
the fine, and all charges of purchase and grants for three lives, 
to his said Majesty, Charles II. He was also to pay 10/- 
rent yearly to his said Majesty, being half the whole rent. All 
taxes were to be equally shared, paid by the two parties. 
They were to have licence and liberty to dig there for the 
finding out of coals and to drain water out of the said mines, 
and to drive and carry away the same in as ample a manner 


as had been granted the tenants there. Lord Hawley was 
then Steward of the Manor. Certain fields, the Holmes and 
the Barrow, in the said Manor formerly granted to Captain 
Kingston and Mr. John Weekes were to be excluded from the 
grant. The document (Mr. Tooker, no doubt, had a fellow 
to it) was signed : — 

John Tooker, 
and witnessed by 

John Hippesley, 

Thomas Jones (his mark), 

Elizabeth Hoskyns (Hoskyns was a very old name in 
Holcombe, found in the Exchequer Lay Subsidies, 1333, and 
in the Roll of the Hundred Court at Babington). 

There appears to have been an interesting though litigious 
sequel to this grant and deed. 

In 1678 complaint was made by the customary tenants 
on the Duchy land that one William Long, of Stratton, agent 
of the Duchy, had been breaking up land for digging coal on 
their holdings, especially on these particular closes called 
Plumers and Perthill, without first getting leave of the tenants. 
I presume that the Duchy's agent had taken the work of 
digging for coal out of the hands of the partners, John Salmon 
and John Tooker, and was working it himself for the King. 

The points put forward were whether coal had been dug, 
whether certain closes were part of the Forest of Mendip, 
how far did it extend. Did not the people who came to coal 
there always call it Mendip coal ? What was the custom and 
usage of granting estates in the coal mines and particularly 
in Plumer's Close and Perthill ? May not the grantee of a 
coal mine upon land already granted as far as the herbage 
only was concerned, enter the ground for digging coal and 
carry it away, paying treble damage for trespass ? What 
damage was paid by any grantees on the adjacent Manors of 
Kilmersdon, Babington, Holcombe, and Mells for working 
coal on the lands of tenants ? 

These answers were given. That Lord Compton had 
granted a coal lease over a copyhold at Kilmersdon. 


That the land at Perthill before the digging was not 
worth more than 5/- per acre, that damage to the amount of 
4d. per acre had been done. That the wark carted away was 
poisonous to the lands. That the closes of Plumers and 
Perthill had been reputed part of the forest of Mendip. That 
the said forest extended where coal pits were from Stranbrook 
Ash, near Mells, to Gurnay Slade, a distance of four miles in 
length and one mile in breadth. 

" This slip of the forest points to the origin of the liberty 
of Hill House, extending through the valleys of Edford and 
Vobster."— Som. A. S. P., 1884. 

We are not told how this case ended, but from this we 
gather that the King claimed the right to grant licence to dig 
for coals in his demesne in the Forest of Mendip in spite 
of the claims of customary tenants to the herbage of the 

Further interesting details upon this case, and generally 
upon the methods pursued by these coal mining adventurers, 
are given us in the 2nd vol. of the " Victoria County History." 
Early in the 17th century a lease of the coal mines was taken 
by William Long and Hercules Horler, who admitted John 
Salmon, the Elder, known as Gentleman Salmon, into partner- 
ship with them. When the lease expired it was found that 
they had nearly ruined the workings by removing the pillars, 
which had caused the roof to fall in and inundated the work- 
ings with water. They seem also to have driven into private 
land adjoining, belonging to one Toby Salmon, and fetched 
his coal without his privity or leave. 

Hercules Horler when remonstrated with is said to have 
answered very impudently : " There is never a Salmon of 
them all that shall govern me, and I will not be put by of the 
right I have." 

The matter apparently was settled by payment of 
compensation, which by regular custom was assessed at treble 
the damages committed. 

But from all accounts it seems that the tenants or copy- 
holders were very inconsiderately treated, especially when 


these miners set to work under a grant and licence from the 
Lord of the Manor. 

In this case it often happened that when the tenants 
opposed an entry, these mining adventurers took French 
leave and faced the consequence. 

The writer of the article in the " Victoria County History " 
tells us that in the reign of James I Charity Plummer was the 
copyhold possessor of Plummer's Close, and Austin Vaggs, her 
son, was copyholder in reversion, and that Gentleman Salmon 
agreed with them that if he were allowed to work for coals 
in their close he would give the occupant one-eighth and the 
copyholder in reversion one-sixteenth of the coal raised, as 
well as pay an allowance for loss of herbage, and clear the 
ground of wark when the pit was worked out. 

Here the tenants were reasonable, and willingly accepted 
the terms offered, and all went well. But sometimes they 
held out against any entrance upon their land, and resisted 
the attempts of the miners to sink their shafts in the land. 
This happened once when William Long, Hercules Horler, and 
John Salmon followed their drift into the enclosed land of 
Nicholas Everitt, and begged his leave to sink a new pit in 
his land. Here the tenant stoutly resisted, though treble 
damages were offered, and they were forced to give up their 
enterprise till a later date, when they managed to come to 
terms with Everitt's widow, whom the gallant Hercules had 
taken to himself to wife. Again we are told of a case where 
the copyholder got little chance of fair dealing as the miners 
were backed up by their landlord. John Gleare was the 
copyholder or cottier deed ; Mr. Edmund Trowbridge, of 
Lypyate, the landlord. 

This Gleare evidently gave his name to Glare's Close, a 
field name in Holcombe in later days. 

Edmund Trowbridge, as we are told in Lord Hylton's 
■'History of Kilmersdon," was a contentious man, and withal 
very unscrupulous, as we read of his being indicted and con- 
victed for digging a coal mine on the highway. 

With such a man to deal with, poor John Gleare or Glare 


was not likely to receive much consideration, so we find that 
when William Salmon, Samuel Salmon, and Thomas Perkins 
entered his lands without his consent, they were backed up by 
Trowbridge in their refusal to give any compensation, and 
that the tenant had to take whatever terms they chose to 

The paltry sum of 6d. a week was all he could get, and 
the mine was worked for a year and then thrown up 
by the first body of adventurers. But ere long others 
took over what was left of it, amongst whom was William 
Blanning, from whom Blanning's Farm is no doubt 

Glare fared no better at their hands, and after a show of 
resistance and threatening to attack the horses which came 
for the coal, he had to accept the maximum of 6d. a week, 
which was all they would give him. 

After they left the pits, others, as Henry and Thomas 
Chivers and James James, started work again upon the 
diggings, but finding that the coal was all worked out, they 
threw the whole thing up and left without paying Gleare 
anything at all. 

These miners' contention was that the advantage gained 
by the tenants by the standing and feeding of horses upon 
their land more than compensated the tenants for their loss 
of herbage. 

Evidently, however, the latter thought otherwise, and 
considering the great profits of the coal "won by the miners, 
the least they could do was to pay fair compensation for 

The value of the coals raised out of one acre was said to 
be worth more than the fee simple of the land. 

The miners in those days were exposed to considerable 
danger and hardship in the workings. Many men, we are 
told, were killed outright, many maimed and burnt, and some 
were blown up at the pit's mouth. The miners made use of 
very thin candles to keep their air quick, and to combat the 
fire-damp which was due to the narrowness of the main 


underground roads, and the small size and comparative 
shallowness of the shafts. 

Somersetshire and Gloucestershire were conspicuous 
examples of this narrow shafting, which till the middle of the 
18th century were only 4 to 5 feet in diameter. 

Even as late as 1797, when Mr. Billingsley wrote about 
our coal mines, 60 fathoms, i.e., 360 feet was their extreme 
depth, whereas at Radstock they now reach as deep as 1,800 
feet. But at the end of the 18th century the day was already 
dawning when better machinery and more scientific methods 
were being employed to minimise accident, and develop the 
working of coal. The early perfunctory method of merely 
tapping the surface, making small excavations, and raising 
the coal by windlass and rope with horse power, was being 
superseded as steam power was being brought into operation 
to pump up the water and bring up the coal and men in cages 
from the shaft's bottom. Ventilation also was provided by 
hot air from furnaces, and drills were used to pierce and break 
the coal from the mass. 

This district, says Mr. Billingsley, abounds in coal, and 
with respect to this article is reducible to the separate divisions 
of northern and southern. The latter, the one that concerns 
us, includes, he says, the southern part of Midsomer Norton, 
Stratton-on-the-Fosse, Holcombe, and Ashwick, and adjoining 
the district, Kilmersdon, Babington, and Mells. These are 
what were heretofore known by the name of Mendip collieries, 
and probably they were once within the verge of that extensive 
forest, though now in the midst of old enclosures. Forest, of 
course, here does not mean wood, like Selwood or the New 
Forest, but only land outside the area of cultivation, and 
given over to scrub and gorse and heath, formerly the abode 
of the wild beasts of the chase. 

" This southern district," Mr. Billingsley says, "is on a 
more limited scale of working than the northern. The strata 
of coal form an inclination of the plane from 18 to 30 inches 
in the yard ; in some the plane is annihilated, and they 
descend in perpendicular direction. 


" There are," he says, " in number twenty-five seams, in 
thickness from six inches to seven feet, seldom worked under 
18 inches in thickness, from 30 to 60 fathoms at the present 
working (1798). 

" By the steam engines which are now being erected in 
the district a much greater depth will be attained. Profits in 
the aggregate of working very trifling, if any, owing to 
the consumption of timber and the expense of drawing 

"The coal of various qualities, some nearly equal to that 
of the northern district, but the greater part less firm, of 
shorter grain, and less calculated for distant carriage, but free 
to burn and wholly divested of sulphurous stench, and 
durable, the small coal excellent for the forge, and when 
reduced to a cinder, called coke, by a process of very ancient 
usage, furnishing a fuel for drying malt, which, from its total 
smokelessness cannot be excelled if equalled." The markets 
for its consumption are Wilts, Dorset, and Somerset East. 

" A canal to the works in this district might easily be 
cut, and the tonnage of coal to Frome (9 miles) will not 
exceed 2/- per ton. 

" Such a canal," he continues, " is now, in 1797, in exe- 
cution." Unfortunately, as we all know, this canal, called 
the Somerset and Dorset Canal, was given up long ago, owing 
to the want of funds and interest on the part of neighbouring 
landowners. A light railway is being talked of, and people 
say " it must come some day," but when, nobody knows. 

The average price of coal, says Billingsley, was, when he 
wrote, 3|d. per bushel. 

This coalfield has always possessed the unenviable 
notoriety of being the most disturbed in our island. The 
abrupt folding caused by the upheaval of older rocks forming 
the Mendip Hills has had the effect of inverting the strata for 
some distance along their northern flank to a sufficient extent 
to bring to the surface the carboniferous limestone under- 
lying the coal measures. Above them our coal seams in the 
valley have been strangely twisted and contorted and up- 


turned, and it has been a work of great skill and industry to 
make them profitable. 

Anyone who has been down the Edford colliery and 
through the roadways, must be conscious of this, and have 
wondered at the ingenuity displayed in getting at and winning 
the coal kfsuch dark, confined spaces, and along such narrow, 
low galleries. 

It is different at Radstock, where the galleries are 6 feet 
high, and well lighted, and the cage^ of more modern type. 

An account is given in the S.A.S. proceedings of a party 
of the society, amongst whom were Lord Arthur Hervey, 
Bishop of Bath and Wells, Lord Carlingford, Sir R. H. Paget, 
M.P., Professor Freeman, etc. The party were conducted by 
Mr. G. MacMurtrie. The pit was biilliantly lighted by candles, 
and Chinese lanterns, and the men gave them a pleasant and 
hearty welcome. At the luncheon afterwards the members 
expressed their great satisfaction at their kindly reception, 
and a purse was collected for the miners as a token of the 
goodwill and gratitude of the whole party. 

As I write this comes the terrible news of the accident 
at Newhaven, by which so many gallant men were entombed 
under the sea, owing to the fire in the pits. Everyone must 
feel for the sad accidents and perils which the miners have to 
face. No one can grudge paying a fair price for the coal, 
which is won by them at risk to life and limb. 

Unfortunately the hardships of their profession are taken 
advantage of by unscrupulous agitators to set the men against 
their employers, and to embitter them against the consumers 
of coal. One of the most notorious of these, himself an M.P., 
even had the baseness to insinuate that the men walled up in 
the Newhaven mine were sacrificed to the greed of those who 
wished to preserve the workings. The dissemination of such 
false insinuations in these days of unrest cannot be too 
severely condemned, and it is to be regretted that such a 
member could not be expelled from the House of Commons. 

The work of coal mining is, no doubt, also deleterious to 
the general health of the miners. 


Legislation has lately been brought to bear upon the 
number of hours which should be spent in these underground, 
sunless, close workings, and has restricted such working to 
8 hours a day. 

The real wealth of the country lies in the strength and 
health and vitality of its people, and anything which tends to 
prejudice this, though bringing in more material profit, must 
have a deleterious effect. 

" 111 fares the land to lasting ills a prey, 
Where wealth accumulates, but men decay." 

Chapter X. 


ANOTHER important industry which at one time must 
have been extensively followed in this district, and 
particularly in this parish, was that of iron-smelting. 
There are several fields in the neighbourhood which go by the 
name of " Ire-pits," or " Iron-pits," one such being here on 
Moor's Farm. There are no traces of any such pits on the 
open ground of this field, but the copse which formerly 
formed part of the field is full of them. 

Then there are " Great Iron-pits " and " Little Iron- 
pits " at Stoke Lane and Ash wick, and iron slag has been 
found at Walton in Kilmersdon. 

I have also found quantities on the site of the old Manor 
House here, and there is a heap of such slag just inside the 
boundary of the Duchy land, on the other side of the furthest 
field west, on Mr. Padfield's farm called Grove, where there 
are also the remains of an old kiln. This iron has been very 
imperfectly reduced. 

Iron was -early known to exist in Britain. Caesar says 
that " in the maritime regions of Britain there was iron, but 
not in abundance." This allusion is useful as proving the 
knowledge of the fact that the island was not destitute of this 
invaluable metal. It was also true that in Kent and Sussex — 
the maritime parts of the island with which he was alone 
acquainted — iron was certainly manufactured in early Britain. 
Caesar mentions that the currency of the people consisted 
partly of iron rings adjusted to a certain weight, and as he 
states in the same breath that their brass was imported, it 
may be reasonably inferred that their iron was of home 
manufacture. Tacitus says that Britain produced gold, 
silver, and other metals. Pliny alludes to the smelting of 
iron in this province, and Solinus not only mentions the raw 



material, but also specifies the agricultural and other imple- 
ments fabricated from it in his time. 

Iron was extensively worked by the Romans in the 
Forest of Dean, where the ore was peculiarly rich, and in all 
the surrounding neighbourhood. All through the Vale of 
Monmouth, the Blestium of the Romans — and the Dudley 
and Birmingham of olden days — and along the Wye numerous 
remains of iron mines are found, known probably by the 
name of scowles, and now covered by thick copses owing to 
the uneven and uncultivated character of the ground. Iron 
cinders are spread all over the country to the north of the 
Wye between Monmouth and Bridstow ; and a Roman pack- 
horse road, on which the iron ore found in the mountain lime- 
stone could be transported, runs for five miles in the direction 
of Tintern and Chepstow. 

The village of Coleford stands in the middle of the 
country, which is covered with these remains, and the names 
Cinderford and Cinderhill and Redbrook evidence the anti- 
quity of these Roman works. 

Similar names, such as Ashlach, Cinderbeck, Cinderhill, 
Cinderbarrow, and Cindernab are applied in the North of 
England as proper names to places, where heaps of iron 
scoriae are found, and doubtless mark the sites where the old 
people, Romans and Britons, set up their bloomeries and 
smelted their iron ore. A field in this parish also seems to 
tell the same tale. It is called Cinderhayes, and probably it 
will be found that here, as elsewhere, ancient bloomeries stood 
close by where the iron cinders came from. This has proved 
correct, as will be shown later on. 

Immense quantities of scoriae are found to the east of 
Ross, at Weston, near Penyard, the site of the Roman city of 
Uriconium, which must have been a city of iron workers 
surrounded by forges. 

An old monkish legend tells of an ancient city called 
Alauna, now the present Alchester, which was inhabited 
entirely by smiths, and was swallowed up by an earthquake 
because the smiths would not listen to the preaching of 


St. Egwin, but drowned his voice by the incessant clamour of 
their anvils. 

The city of Worcester appears also to have been, under 
the Romans, a district of iron workers, and possessed forges 
second only to those of the great Forest of Dean. The 
cinders there were dug up, and re-smelted in the middle of the 
7th century. They were mixed with unsmelted ore, and, we 
are told, made the best sow iron in the world. A mass of sow 
iron of pure metal, weighing 4 lbs., was picked up on the site 
of the old Manor Farm at Holcombe. 

A famous west country traveller, Andrew Yarrenton, 
who wrote a book upon " England's improvements by land 
and sea," in 1677, says : — " Moreover, there is yet a most 
great benefit to the kingdom in general by the sow iron made 
of this iron stone, and Roman cinders, in the Forest of Dean, 
for that metal is of the most pliable, soft nature, easily and 
quickly to be wrought into manufacture over any other iron, 
and it is the best in the known world ; and the greater part of 
the sow iron is sent up Severn to the forges in Worcester- 
shire, Shropshire, and Staffordshire, Warwickshire and 
Cheshire, and there is made into bar iron. And because of 
its kind and gentle nature to work, it is now at Stourbridge, 
Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sedgely, and Birmingham, wrought 
and manufactured into all kinds of small commodities, and 
diffused all over England, and thereby a great trade into 
foreign parts is made of it." 

He also goes on to say : "In the Forest of Dean the iron 
is made at this day of cinders, being the rough and offal 
thrown away in the Romans' time, they then having only 
footblasts to melt the iron stone. But now by the force of a 
great wheel that drives a pair of bellows 20 feet long, all that 
iron is extracted out of the cinders which could not be forced 
from it by the Roman footblasts. And in this country there 
is an infinite of pit coal, and the pit coal being near the iron, 
and the iron stone growing with the coals there, it is manu- 
factured very cheap, and sent all England over, and most 
part of the world." 


Some specimens of this Forest of Dean iron scoriae, which 
are very like those found here, were kindly dug up for the 
writer by Mr. Whitaker Wemyss on his estate. 

Later on the work was continued, and the forest almost 

In various parts of Sussex, as at Maresfield, Seddles- 
combe, Westfield, Mayfield, and Buxted, much ancient 
scoriae and slag is found, and scarcely a bed of cinders could 
be examined without finding fragments of Roman pottery and 

The pits from which the Romans dug the clay iron stone 
from the beds between the chalk and oolite, are still found in 
considerable numbers, covered always with a thick wood. 
The discovery of this Roman industry was due to Mr. Turner, 
of Buxted, who noticed Roman pottery amongst a heap of 
cinders by the roadside used for the road, and traced them 
back to a farm of his at Maresfield. 

The scoriae here found contained so much more iron than 
elsewhere that it was invaluable for mending the roads. By 
the kindness of some friends at Mayfield, Sussex, the writer 
was enabled to compare scoriae of that neighbourhood with 
those of Holcombe. Other specimens were also procured 
for him from a bloomery at Coniston by Mr. Wilkinson, Art 
Master at the Technical School, Bath. (See Plate XIII.) 

The destruction of so many trees involved by the exces- 
sive use of charcoal necessary in these smelting operations 
eventually caused great complaint, and edicts were several 
times passed limiting it. 

Drayton, in his " Polyolbion," pleads the sad case of the 
felled forests in these lines : — 

" These forrests, as I say, the daughters of the Weald, 
That in their heavy breasts had long their griefs concealed ; 
Foreseeing their decay each hour so fast come on 
Under the axe's stroke fetch'd many a grievous groan. 
When as the anviles weight and hammers dreadful sound, 
E'en rent the hollow woods and shook the queachy ground, 
So that the trembling nymphs oppress'd through ghastly fear, 
Ran madding to the Downes with loose, dishevT'd hair ; 


The sylvans that about the neighbouring woods did dwell, 
Both in the tufty Frith and in the mossy dell, 
Forsook their gloomy bowers and wandered far abroad, 
Expell'd their quiet seats and place of their abode. 

Joves Oak, the warlike Ash, veyn'd Elme, the softe Beech, 
Short Hazel, Maple plain, light Asp, the winding Wych, 
Tough Holly, and smooth Birch must altogether burne ; 
What should the Builder serve supplies the Forges turne, 
When under public good base private gaine takes hold, 
And we poor, woeful woods to ruin lastly solde." 

At High Furness, in Lancashire, the tenants complained 
that their wood was being destroyed by the unceasing use of 
charcoal, and that they were thereby deprived of their " proper 
fewell for the maintenance of their hedges and the yearly use 
to fell and cut slender wood, and to shed, lop, crop, top, and 
browse all other woods and trees." Therefore, in the seventh 
year of Queen Elizabeth, 1565, the Bloom Smithies, or Forges 
were suppressed, on the tenants of the Manor agreeing amongst 
themselves to pay the annual rent of £20. The amount was 
assessed rateably over the various properties, and this was 
the origin of " Bloomsmithy " rents, such as are found 
mentioned in most old deeds relating to the Manor of Haws- 
head. The Duke of Buccleuch some years ago, says our 
informant, in 1884, gave the tenants the option of buying 
them in. All took advantage of the concession, and they are 
now extinguished. The old custom, on the other hand, to 
shed, lop, crop, top, and browse cattle upon the tender shoots 
of trees is still kept up in High Furness. This decree of 
Elizabeth doubtless in some measure abolished the bloom- 
smithies or forges in the north. 

A flourishing trade, however, still went on, and the iron- 
masters of the Weald of Sussex made large fortunes, built 
handsome residences in the county, cast banded cannon for 
the artillery, and gates and railings for cathedrals like St. 
Paul's, girders for bridges, and innumerable iron implements, 
especially fire-backs and andirons or dogs to carry the logs 
of wood on the old Sussex open fireplaces. 

f ^>- 


. it ' 


Norman Arch of Porch, Holcomhe Church. 

See page 321. 


But the wood began to fail them. Coal was found in the 
north, where iron also was a native product, and at last the 
furnaces were extinguished, the hammers ceased to ring upon 
the anvils, the miners and charcoal burners migrated into 
other parts, and this Sussex industry, which had lasted 
nearly 1700 years, became extinct. The last furnace, Hugget's, 
was put out in 1827. Amongst other places, Glamorganshire 
profited by this migration of the iron smelting community in 

So much for the more extensive iron smelting industry ; 
it was also practised on a smaller scale by the Romans on 
their farms and villas. Stoves for smelting iron have been 
frequently found on the ruins of Roman villas. The same 
furnace which burnt the charcoal, or perhaps the coal, for 
their hypocausts, or hollow chambers, placed beneath the 
tesselated pavements to heat the houses with hot air, was 
used for smelting iron, perhaps also for making glass. 

Roasted iron stone thus found in the cellars of a Roman 
villa, indicated not so much an industry as a home production 
for domestic conveniences. The late Mr. Skinner found the 
same stoves at Wellow and Whatleigh, and he says that you 
find them wherever traces of these Roman country houses exist. 

On the larger scale iron was worked in the western part 
of this county, on the Brendon Hills, which contain rich veins 
of haematite iron, which is more valuable than our clay iron- 

A flourishing industry once existed at Syndercombe and 
Treborough, and many Roman relics were found among the 
heaps of iron scoriae in this district. The trade, however, 
which was carried on between this part of Somerset and 
South Wales, was cut out by the cheaper and better Spanish 
iron, and at one time seemed quite extinguished. Lately, 
however, it has been revived, and the country once more 
presents a busy aspect, owing to greatly improved methods 
of smelting and also to the fact that Spanish iron is not to be 
got at so readily or so cheaply as of yore. 

After the Romans, the monks of the various monasteries 



and abbeys carried on this work of smelting iron and working 
it up. Glastonbury Abbey may have smelted iron-stone in 
this neighbourhood, perhaps in this parish, as part of it was 
evidently included in Stratton, which belonged to Glaston- 
bury in Saxon days. 

The monks of Glastonbury employed many smiths. We 
know they worked iron at the Manor of Pucklechurch in 

" The canons of Gainsborough," says Dr. Atkinson in his 
" Forty Years in a Moorland Parish," "smelted iron in the 
13th, 14th, and 15th centuries in Glaishdale. The site of 
their mines was called Mine-pit field." 

The methods used in olden times for smelting iron were 
of a very primitive kind. The first sort of smelting furnace 
was probably not much more elaborate than the domestic 
fire. In this the fuel and embers were kept together by a 
circle of rough stones. Below the fire a shallow depression 
would be scraped for the reception of the metal. As bellows 
of any kind were probably unknown, the prevalent wind 
would be utilised for increasing the heat of the fire to the 
point necessary for the reduction of the ore. After a time 
the furnace cavity was made deeper, and was excavated just 
within the perpendicular face of a low bank, through which 
an opening was made into its interior for the removal of the 
iron. The blast of air which before came in from the top was 
now introduced at the bottom, either through the same 
opening by which the iron was removed, or through one or 
more apertures specially made for the purpose. The fuel 
was charcoal, and this was placed in the furnace, and some- 
times also piled above it in alternate layers with the iron ore. 
The natural force of the wind was, as I have said, alone 
employed in the earlier furnaces. The metal was never 
melted, but was always obtained in the form of a solid mass of 
malleable iron which sometimes, when the heat was very 
great or an excess of carbon was used, was mixed with steel. 
These wind-blast furnaces were called Bloomeries. They 
were raised some feet above the ground. 


The word Bloomery may have come from the Anglo- 
Saxon, " Blowan," to blow, or from the idea of the brightness 
of the glowing lumps of iron just as we talk of the bloom or 
brightness of a flower. The lumps of iron themselves were 
hence called Blooms. Such bloomeries were no doubt used 
in Romano-British days in Cumberland and Westmoreland, 
especially at High Furness, where they have been brought to 
light in modern days. These Roman Bloomeries appear , 
from what is recorded on the subject, to have been generally 
situated in a narrow gorge, through which the wind rushed 
with great rapidity. A bloomery consisted of a low cupola of 
stone pierced with holes for admitting the wind. These holes 
would be opened or shut when the furnace was in operation 
so as to regulate the force of the flame. This was the crudest 
form of iron smelting apparatus. 

This crude method of smelting iron, which was practised 
from the days of the Britons and Romans up to mediaeval 
times, is met with even in the present day and amongst 
people whose simple and unsophisticated habits of life would, 
according to our ideas, stamp them almost as savages. There 
is to-day, we are told by Mr. C. V. Bellamy (M.Inst.C.E., 
F.G.S.), Director of Public Works at Lagos, in the Hinterland 
of West Africa, not more than three days' journey from the 
coast, a small village whose inhabitants have been engaged 
in the extraction of iron for generations past, and where the 
methods are the same probably as those practised by the 
earliest workers in this industry. 

The community consists, he tells us, of only about 120 
souls„ and that beyond the cultivation of a few acres of 
agricultural land for their daily requirements, the whole of 
them, men, women, and children, down to the ages of 5 or 6, 
are occupied in the mining and smelting of iron. 

The system is much the same that was prevalent amongst 
us in olden days. First the crude ore from the shale com- 
posed of nodular particles of haematite iron is mined in a 
manner strongly suggestive of the ancient stream workings 
for tin, in Cornwall and Devon. Then, as of yore, it is roasted 


over a fire of green timber in order to expel water and carbonic 
acid gas. It is then powdered, screened, and washed by- 
women in calabash trays and sluiced in clear water till all 
impurities are removed. Further, it is conveyed to the 
smelting house and poured into a kiln which is situated in the 
centre of a mud shed, 26 feet by 16, and roofed with palm 
leaves. Its walls are not carried up to the roof, so as to allow 
of a space all round being left for light and ventilation. 
This latter convenience is all the more needed because a 
draft of air is a necessary requirement of the cupola (or 
kiln) used in connection with the hearth or furnace in which 
the iron is smelted. 

The cupola stands above the hearth 3 feet 9 inches, with 
an open flue 9 inches in circumference, and surrounded by 
18 vertical pipes, each communicating with the lower part of 
the furnace and supplying a current of air from a small 
opening at their top. The slag or clinker left after each 
operation is used again as a flux, as it contains much lime, and 
is thrown in from time to time into the upper hole in the 
cupola to mix with the iron in the furnace. A description of 
forced draught for the furnace is obtained by so adjusting 
the amount of inlet and outlet apertures of the cupola that 
the relationship between the inflowing amount of air and the 
escape in the dome is as 3 to 7, that is, that the outlet is 3J 
times as great as the inlet. 

When the ore is deemed to be properly smelted, a tunnel 
below is first opened to allow the flux to run off, and the live 
charcoal is raked out through the doorway of the cupola, when 
the smelted metal is found at the bottom of the furnace in a 
solid cake or pig, some 70 or 80 lbs. in weight. It is hooked 
out by a green creeper from the forest, and taken out of the 
shed and left to cool before being broken up and sent to be 
puddled by the smithy. For every 100 pounds of ore 46 
pounds of metal are obtained, and the prices work out at 
£18 13s. 4d. per ton, or six times the price of pig iron in the 
English market. The native smiths boast that their pig iron 
is far better than any produced in England ; this is partly 


justified by the fact which an analysis of the product brings 
out, showing it to be really a puddled steel, low in sulphur 
and phosphorus, and so of purer quality. 

This is a remarkable instance of a crude and obsolete 
process surviving into modern times. Here we find also that 
it is possible with very inadequate means to rival, if not to 
surpass, the quality of work done with all the resources of 
modern invention, and without any suggestions from the 
outside world. 

It only shows what genius, unaided by advantageous 
circumstances, can accomplish, and how mind can triumph 
over matter. 

This method of creating the necessary blast by natural 
wind was evidently adopted of old in Kingswood Forest. An 
old tower, called the Round House, of very massive masonry, 
still exists near the Kingswood Lodge. It was at one time 
used as a windmill, but, no doubt, long before that was used 
as a Bloomery of the simple kind, called a " Blow Georgie," 
intended to do the work now done by the steam blast engine. 
This is supposed to have been the original Bloomery of 
Captain Copley, who lived in the days of the Commonwealth, 
and obtained a patent from Cromwell to use pit coal instead 
of charcoal in his furnaces. But this primitive method was 
superseded long before his day by better and more reliable 

Later the temperature of the fire in the iron furnaces was 
raised to the point necessary for the reduction of the ore to 
the metallic state by a mechanical form of blower — in fact by 
a regular leather-bellows connected by a pipe with the edge 
of the furnace. The simplest kind were portable, worked by 
foot bellows, just as we find depicted upon tombs in Egypt of 
the age of Moses. They consisted of a leather bag secured 
and fitted into a frame, from which a long pipe extended for 
carrying the wind to the fire. They were worked by the 
feet of the operator standing upon them, with one under each 
foot, and pressing alternately while he pulled up each ex- 
hausted skin with a string he held in his hand. This is found 


in Wilkinson's "Egyptians," and is alluded to in the Old 
Testament. Isaiah liv. says : " The smith that bloweth 
the coals (charcoal) in the fire." 

Unfortunately, says Professor Gowland, there are no 
•debris left of any Roman furnaces sufficiently perfect to 
enable us to deduce from them its original form. 

The iron found in this parish is very imperfectly smelted, 
and contains much which has not been reduced into the 
malleable state. This is partly due to the imperfection of the 
blast arrangement, and partly to the fact that no flux was 
used to separate the clay from clay-iron-stone. 

It is strange, as limestone abounds in the district. In 
fact the three constituents exist here side by side — the iron- 
ore from the clay-iron-stone, the limestone for the flux of 
lime, and the coal for fuel. 

Since this was written the writer has made an interesting 
discovery of some smelting works of a primitive kind, probably 
Romano-British, in a field called Wallyns or Witcombe- 
mead upon his property in this parish. (See Plate XIV.) 

Indeed, from the debris found upon the spot he has 
reconstructed the arrangement which was probably used at 
this early date to extract the ore from the clay-iron-stone 
obtained from the iron pits on Moor's Farm, and he ventures 
to think that it fairly represents the original apparatus. 

The situation of these furnaces in a field upon the most 
exposed position in the parish, where the prevalent winds 
could be utilised to the best advantage, shows that the 
primitive cupola was used for the air blast rather than any 
portable bellows or foot blast. This is substantiated by 
finding the baked clay fragments which evidently formed 
the wall of the cupola. The quantity also of imperfectly 
smelted iron slag, weighing some tons, dug up in the 
workings, the arrangement of the hearths which consisted of 
round holes in the floor, with large stones set up edgeways 
around them, together with heaps of charcoal, pointed con- 
clusively to the fact of the primitive nature of the workings 
and to the employment of the earliest kinds of furnaces. 


The way in which this discovery was made is interesting 
as showing the reliability of old traditions, the value of place 
names, and the advantage of topography. Tradition pointed 
to the works being situated in a certain spot, etymology backed 
up the tradition, since the adjoining field bore the suggestive 
name of Cinderhays, or cinders, and topography clinched the 
matter by showing that no place in this parish was more suit- 
able for the purpose in hand since it was so much exposed to 
all the winds of heaven. 

The area of this working is about 20 square yards, the 
depth of the floor 4 feet beneath the surface, the largest piece 
of slag, 17 lb. in weight, and the height of furnace and cupola 
7 feet. Pipes of baked clay were probably used for the inlet 
draughts of air. 

The next stage in the development of iron smelting 
industry was the introduction of portable forges. 

In 1237, we rea -d in a charter, " De forgis levandis in 
foresta de Dene." These were light forges, which it was found 
more convenient, owing to the bad condition of the roads, to 
carry to the iron stone and to the neighbourhood of fuel, than 
that the materials should be brought to the forges. 

The Catalan forges of modern times were little better than 
these. The great principle, of which all these early people 
were ignorant, was the advantage of using a flux such as lime 
to decompose the clay in the iron stone. Hence the iron was 
only partially reduced. It was often first roasted in an 
ordinary kiln to calcine it, and then subjected to the furnace 
blast. Apparently, too, they had what were called fineries, 
where a second process reduced the iron-stone further, and 
made it run off. But they knew nothing of the " puddling " 
process pursued now-a-days, by which the carbon is separated, 
and cast iron was unknown to the ancients, the metal being 
extracted without being converted into cast iron. 

Charcoal was used in this iron smelting till 161 2, when 
Dud Dudley introduced coal for the purpose. His improve- 
ment died with himself, and was not re-introduced till 
Abraham Derby used it at Coalbrookdale in 17 13. Dud 


Dudley's history is very interesting. His career is an illus- 
tration of genius being unrewarded because premature, and 
so unrecognised. In his book entitled " Metallum Martis," 
he gives a most interesting account of how first he was taken 
away from his studies at Balliol College, Oxford, to manage 
his father's furnace and two forges at Pensnett, near Dudley, 
near which hamlet, and on the present rifle range, there exist 
to this day rough lumps of cinder from this early workshop. 
There he found that, within 10 miles of Dudley Castle, were 
near 2,000 smithies of all sorts, and many iron works, that 
were decayed from want of wood, in what was formerly a 
mighty woodland country. 

The woods of his father, Lord Dudley, whose natural son 
he was, were disappearing also. Finding the coal very 
accessible and near, being dug up on the surface in open 
works, he began to use it for smelting iron. Lord Dudley 
obtained from James I a patent for him. But Dud Dudley 
experienced nothing but ill luck. His forges and pits were 
damaged by floods, and the ironmasters of Dudley attacked 
and destroyed his works. In 1623 he managed, however, to 
send bar iron to the Tower of London, which was approved 
and passed by the Iron Master, and he began to prosper. 

Then came the Civil War, and being a Royalist, he joined 
the King's forces, and was advanced to the rank of Major in 
Sir Francis Worsley's regiment, and was at the Siege of 
Gloucester under Sir George Lisle. Finally he was taken 
prisoner, sent to London, and ordered to be shot. But he 
managed to escape from prison, and came all the way from 
London to Bristol on crutches, where he continued to live a 
long time in the strictest privacy. During this time he made 
the acquaintance of the afore-mentioned Capt. Copley, who 
had established works for smelting iron from pit coal in the 
Forest of Kingswood in 1656. This man having failed to 
make his bellows to blow, sent for Dud Dudley to instruct him 
in the art. But it all ended in failure, owing to the jealousy 
of the ironmasters of Bristol and the Forest of Dean. After 
a time he lost both heart and health, and died in poverty and 


seclusion ; but he had laid the foundation of the great iron 
trade of England, which dated from the time he used coal to 
smelt the iron ore in his furnaces in the reign of James I. 
His is, therefore, a name which should be handed down to all 
generations as one of the founders of the great school of 
England's Ironmasters. 

The last improvement of the early men in their method 
of smelting was the use of water power to work their bellows. 
The hammer ponds in Sussex, which still exist, were dug out 
and dammed up for this purpose. Water was also invariably 
used, where present, to cleanse the iron before smelting as well 
as for working the bellows for the furnace. 

Mayfield in Sussex was famous for its hammer ponds and 
ironmasters. The Baker family, who lived at the lower 
house for many years, were well known as Iron Smelters. 
Their old Tudor house, which the writer occupied for some 
years, was probably built with stone removed from the 
upper house, once the palace of the Archbishops of 
Canterbury, afterwards the residence of Sir Thomas Gresham, 
who entertained there his royal mistress, Queen Elizabeth. 
In the palace, now a convent of the Order of the Sacred 
Heart, they show the tongs, anvil, and hammer used by St. 
Dunstan, who is supposed to have combined the role of 
blacksmith with his other accomplishments. With these 
tongs he is said to have pinched the devil's nose, when he 
ventured to interrupt the saint at his devotions. The devil 
was so scared by this red-hot treatment that he took to flight 
immediately, and with one leap came down upon Tunbridge 
Wells, where he plunged his burnt nose in the waters, whence 
they got the chalybeate properties, which they have possessed 
ever since. But St. Dunstan was also reputed to have been a 
distinguished painter, bell-founder, and architect, and an 
exploit of his is recorded in the legendary lore of Mayfield. 
It seems that when dedicating the church there, which being 
perched, with its pepper-box Sussex spire, on the hill-top, is a 
commanding object, he found, as he walked round it, that 
its position was not in the direct line from east to west as it 


should be. He thereupon applied his shoulder to it and 
moved it with a slight pressure into its proper place. " The 
which," says the chronicler Eadmer, " that he easily effected 
no one could doubt, except he who incredulously opposes the 
words of Christ, by which He promises to those who have 
faith as a grain of mustard seed that they should even trans- 
plant a mountain with a word and cast it into the sea." 

Antiquarians have always divided the chronological 
history of our ancestors into an age of stone, an age of bronze, 
and an age of iron, and we are living in the most vigorous 
days of this last age of iron. Iron has asserted its supremacy 
over all other metals. 

" Sir," said Solon to the wealthy monarch Crcesus, who 
had been ostentatiously displaying his hoard of gold, " if 
any other come that hath better metal than you, he will be 
master of all thy gold." 

So it has been. The primitive Vulcans by their skill in 
reducing and shaping this intractable metal, made a reputa- 
tion that could never have been gained by the aid of any other 
metal, be it stone, bronze, lead, silver, or gold. 

Strange that this most valuable of minerals should have 
had such a bad reputation in olden days. 

The earliest bridge over the Tiber was made entirely of 
wood ; no iron bolts were permitted to be employed in its 
repair, by religious tradition, down to the time of the empire. 
In ancient Rome also, the beard of a priest might be shaved 
with a bronze knife only ; the site of a new town was marked 
out by a bronze plough. 

In the Bible we frequently find allusion to iron in pre- 
judicial terms. Moses commanded the Israelites to raise an 
altar of unhewn stones, " Whole stones on which no man 
hath used any iron." So when the temple was built there 
was neither hammer nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the 
house while it was building. The use of iron in religious 
ceremonies was thus long avoided. 

It is recorded of Joshua that in circumcising the children 
of Israel he made use of knives of stone. In the Septuagint 


it is said in the account of the burial of Joshua that they laid 
with him the stone knives with which he circumcised the 
children of Israel, and that they were there unto this day. 
This is corroborated by the fact that the Abbe Richard, in 
examining what is known as the tomb of Joshua, at some 
distance to the east of Jericho, found a number of sharp 
flakes of flint, as well as flint instruments of other forms. 

In recent times an enlightened Hindoo prince endeavoured 
to ward off smallpox and other epidemics by ordering that no 
iron was to be used in the building of his territory. 

At home in Exeter they pride themselves in the Bishop's 
throne, 60 feet high, reputed to contain neither nail nor iron 
in any form. Can there be any rational foundation for this 
prejudice ? Is it because it was foreseen that iron would 
become such a terrible implement of warfare in modern times ? 
We cannot answer this problem, but so it was, and the craft 
of the iron workers has always had its touch of romance and 
superstition. Tubal, the first smith, was the descendant of 
the outcast Cain, and amongst the Grecian gods was the lame 
Hephaestus. Vulcan was a metal worker among the gods of 
Rome ; he had his palace in Olympus, in which was his work- 
shop, containing an anvil and 20 pairs of bellows, which he 
worked at the simple word of his command. 

Old " Weyland Smith " kept his invisible forge at Ash- 
bury, and had a wonderful reputation as the wizard smithy of 
Berkshire. Whosoever, said the credulous country folk, 
placed a coin on the capstone of his rude workshop, might go 
away, and returning find his horse shod by invisible hands 
and by a phantom smith. 

So the jealous men of the age of stone and bronze just 
dying out superstitiously storied of the deft fabricators in 
iron, and their seemingly uncanny craftsmanship. 

" Who knows," says the good King Alfred, in his trans- 
lation of Boethius's "Consolation of Philosophy," "where the 
bones of the wise Weyland be ? " and he, we should remember, 
lived at Wantage, hard by Ashbury, the reputed site of the 
wizard's forge. 


In mediaeval days the services of the smith were in- 

Iron, of all metals, was the most in request, and formed 
the most expensive item in the manorial accounts. It was 
bought at the great fairs in bars, 4 lb. weight, and carefully 
kept and supplied by the bailiff as required, to the local smith, 
who used it for iron points to his plough, iron pegs for his 
harrows, and iron shoes for the oxen and horses. 

In all ages the village smithy has been the favourite resort. 
Longfellow's " New England School-children " were not more 
fond of loitering round the open doors to catch the sparks 
flung out of the glowing fire than are our children of to-day. 

To all the village group the smith is the central figure, 
with his strong and sinewy arms. And whether smelting the 
ore in the old forest clearing with his primitive hand bellows, 
or shaping the horse-shoe for the bold rider's steed, or shoeing 
the ox that treadeth out the corn, or rivetting the knight's 
armour for the tournaments, or as to-day casting the guns in 
our great arsenals, where the hammer falls so gently as to 
hardly hurt a fly, or with such force that it will flatten out 
into ribbons the heaviest bar of metal, whatever his work, 
and wherever plied, the smith has always been to the front, 
and will ever there keep his place. Even should the day 
come — and may God speed that coming — when the nations 
shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears 
into pruning hooks, still there will be ample work left to do 
for our modern Weyland Smiths in the happier spheres of art 
and science and agriculture and domestic life. 

Chapter XL 


OTHER industrial undertakings were carried on in this 
parish in days gone by to which our field names and 
local history bear witness. 

For one thing, vines seem to have been cultivated here. 
There are two fields on the Manor Farm, one of which is called 
" Coal Close " and " Vineyardes," and the Other " Vineyards," 
and the remains of the terraces on which the vines were grown 
can still be seen upon the brow of the hill, and were much 
more conspicuous before they were levelled by the present 

When the vines were cultivated we know not ; they may 
have been so in the time of the Romans, for the vine was 
grown in England after 280 A.D., when Probus was Emperor. 
He permitted the provincials to grow grapes, which hitherto 
had been prohibited, lest the cultivation of wheat should be 

Bede. writing in 731 A.D., says the Britons grew vines in 
many places. Camden says we had vines in Britain ever 
since the time of Probus the Emperor. There is a pack of 
hounds in Hampshire called " The Vine," the members of 
which wear a vine leaf on their buttons and the collar of their 
dress coat. They are named after a house called Vine House 
on account of the Romans having planted vineyards in the 

It is curious to think that the knowledge of the existence 
of Roman vineyards should be handed down to the present 
time through a pack of hounds. 

We read in Domesday that at Rugenin, in Essex, there 
is " a pare and six arpennes of vineyards, which if it takes, 
will render 20 modii of wine." " Which," says Camden, " I 
here take notice of both for the French word ' arpennes ' and 
for the mention of the wine made in this island." 



An old poem says : — 

" In time of harvest merry it is enough, 
Pears and apples hangeth on bough. 
The hayward bloweth merry his horn, 
In every felde ripe is the corn. 
The grapes hangeth on the vigne. 
Sweet is true love and fine." 

Of the wines of Gloucester it used to be said that " they 
carry no unpleasant tartness, as being little inferior in sweet 
verdure to the French wines." 

Drayton, in his " Polyolbion," says of that county : — 
" Herself did highly prize, 

When in her pride of strength she nourished good vines, 

And oft her cares refreshed with her delicious wines." 

" Vineyards," says Rogers, " were found in Norfolk in 
the 13th century, and wine, manufactured from English 
grapes, was sold at a price not much less than that given for 
ordinary burgundy. The word vine-acre is one of the many 
place names which point to the cultivation of the vine in 
England. In many parishes there are still fields called vine- 
yards. Even in the centre of cities and towns, as at Bath, 
you come across the name. 

Mr. Rider Haggard, in his " Farmer's Year," speaks of 
the vineyard hills which were situated on his estate at 
Ditchingham, in Norfolk, and which stretched down to the 
river Waveney. He gives us a quaint old map drawn in 1338, 
in which this vineyard is depicted with the river below, and a 
grand old coach, and a gallows. 

He says there is little doubt but that one of the Earl 
Bigods had a vineyard here, for the traditional name still 

One of the appurtenances of Malmesbury^Abbey was a 
vineyard, not of fruit trees for home-made wines, such as 
gooseberry and currants, but for genuine grape juice. 

That such vineyards also existed in Somerset we have 
abundant evidence. 

Stephen Switzer, in his " Ichnographia Rustica," pub- 
lished in 1742, says " that vineyards may be so cultivated in 


England as to produce large quantities of grapes, and those 
so well ripened as to afford a good and substantial vinous 
juice, needs no demonstration, when in several parts of 
Somerset there are at this time flourishing vineyards, and the 
vineyard of the late Sir William Basset in that county has 
annually produced some hogsheads of good and palatable 
wine, which I have been credibly informed by gentlemen who 
have drunk considerable quantities of it with the greatest 

He mentions the vineyards at Bath, and says that the 
juice of the grape was sold there as it was pressed from the 
fruit, and the owners had no further care than managing the 
ground and gathering the fruit. 

It is difficult to understand how, in the face of all this, 
people can bring themselves to deny the growth of vines in 
England from very early times. Yet Mr. Fines Barrington 
strenuously contravened the general opinion and carried on a 
great controversy with Mr. Pegge about early vine growing in 
Sussex. He says that the latitude and climate of Great Britain 
prohibited the growth of vines ; also that the Latin word for 
vineyards, " Vinea," should be rendered orchards or currant 
bushes. But the word " vinitor," vinedresser, used in many 
places cannot mean the orchard keeper, and the grapes grown 
in Kent, by which, in 1151, Robert Sigillo, Bishop of London, 
was poisoned, could not be currants ; and as to the objection 
about the climate, this at least we know, that Mr. Toke, of 
Goddington in Kent, Sir Henry Lyttleton in Oxfordshire, and 
Dr. Bathurst, have put the affair of climate out of court, by 
growing excellent grapes upon their property. 

No doubt, as Professor Rogers says, the climate of 
England in earlier days was sunnier andjnilder than it has 
been in more recent times. The seasons now-a-days seem to 
give the lie to old traditions, which tell of May days and May- 
poles, and speak of Somerset as the " Aestiva Regio," that is, 
" The Land of Summer." 

The vine planting and growing must have flourished 
during one of those earlier times of warm summers, and has 


decayed since, partly owing to our intemperate seasons, and 
partly to the fact that cheap wine of a better quality is easily 
shipped from France. 

It is also true that there were other drinks called wine 
that were not made of the pure juice of the grape. All sorts 
of concoctions went by that name. We read that a certain 
Bartholomew Poitevin held two carucates of land, that is, 
about 240 acres, at Stony Aston or Stone Easton, of our Lord 
the King by the service of one sextary of clove wine to be paid 
to the King yearly at Christmas. This clove wine was of the 
nature of hippocras or spiced wine. 

Hippocras was a somewhat muddy sort of beverage. 
John Aubrey says that Mistress Howe, of Grendon, once sent 
Dr. Kettle, President of Trinity College, Oxford, a present of 
hippocras and some fine cheese-cakes, by a plain country 
fellow, her servant. The Doctor took the wine. " What," 
said he, " didst thou take this wine out of a ditch ?" 

This reminds one of an equally uncomplimentary answer 
of Lord Palmerston to a wine merchant who sent an adver- 
tising sample of a dry port, warranted not to be gouty. 
" Thank you, sir, but I prefer the gout." 

Then there was a mild kind of wine called July flower or 
Gilliflower. Another was made of pears, called permains at 
that day. This, of course, was our perry. 

Elder wine was another later concoction, in which a 
quarter of a pint of brandy was put into every gallon, and 
three or four tablespoonsful of brewer's yeast. Every good 
housewife, according to old Jervis Markham, in his book of 
" Good Husbandry," should be skilled in making all manner 
of wines, and refining them, as well as distilling of all kinds of 

But all these drinks were quite subsidiary to the prime 
drink of England in the middle ages, though apparently wine 
almost as good as foreign burgundy was made from the juice 
of the English grape, cultivated probably by the monastic 
orders. Here in Holcombe it is very likely that the vine- 
yards were planted by the enterprising monks of Glastonbury 








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and Keynsham Abbey. There seems every reason to suppose 
that a wine grower or vinedresser lived at Stratton in 1327, as 
we find the name Willelmo Le Wine paying a subsidy in that 
year to the king's exchequer. 

Our place names seem to point to another industry 
pursued in this parish in early days. There are fields called 
glasses, and another called the " Glass-house " in old records, 
which indicate the existence of a glass furnace for the pro- 
duction of glass of a rough kind, such as glass bottles, for 
common use. 

It is believed that the Romans made glass in England. 

Dr. Guest, in 1848, discovered at Brighton what he 
considered to be relics of a Roman glass house, which had 
been built upon the cliffs above Rottingdean, and had been 
carried into the sea through the fall of the cliff. He found on 
the sea-shore some fine specimens of glass in large lumps, 
which appeared to be coloured pebbles, but which, on ex- 
amination by a lapidary, were found to be like other pieces 
of glass often found on the shore, particularly after a heavy 
sea. The colour of these pieces was amethyst, emerald green, 
and deep maroon, the latter colour being the rarest. 

This lapidary had been accustomed to cut a'nd polish 
small sections of this glass, and to apply them to ornamental 
purposes, such as brooches, etc. 

Brighton sand, it seems, was just the material most 
adapted to the purpose of glass-making, and these fragments 
of glass seemed to be part of the lumps of the material which 
were turned out of the glass-house on the cliff, and sent, as 
was the custom, to the glass-workers in the greater towns of 
the island. 

The earliest record of glass-making relates to Gloucester- 
shire. There were a few glaziers and glass- wrights in Gloucester 
as far back as the 13th century, but they were mostly employed 
in making bottles for the brewing and mineral water trades. 
By the end of the 16th century it was reported that one Hoe, 
a Frenchman, had built a glass-house and furnace, and made 
great quantities of glasses. He was condemned accordingly 



in 1598 to put down the manufacture of drinking glasses, for 
which a patent had been granted to Jerome Bower. 

In the ninth year of Elizabeth's reign a twenty years' 
licence was granted to Anthony Been John Cave, native of 
the low countries, to build furnace houses for glass-making. 
After this, Peter Priest and Appell, assigns of the foregoing, 
renewed the licence for twenty-one years. 

In the beginning of the 17th century a great outcry was 
raised against the cutting down of our forest trees to provide 
fuel for glass furnaces, and one of the earliest schemes for 
substituting coal for charcoal in manufacturing related to 
the glass industry. 

Eventually it came about that 1 a monopoly of the glass 
trade was acquired by one Sir Robert Mansell, Vice- Admiral 
of the Fleet, and one who did yeoman service for his country. 
After him succeeded a merchant of the name of Green, who 
trafficked, not only in drinking vessels, but in looking-glasses 
as well. In 1794 glass bottles were a flourishing manufacture 
in Bristol, and there were twelve glass-houses, which might be 
visited by giving a small tip to the workmen, who lived in hot 
climates, and were very glad of some suction for their lips. 

From the glass fragments found in excavating the Rectory 
Field it seems likely that the Romans manufactured glass in 
this parish, and we know that sand was accessible, as there 
were several veins of it, one on the actual site where the glass 
was found. 

We even hear of one ingenious speculator grinding the 
iron ashes to powder from which glass bottles were made at 
Bristol, as I have mentioned elsewhere. 

It is possible, however, that the word glass-house so 
frequently found in the district, as at Combe Down, Frome, 
and Holcombe, may mean woad-house, as the word translated 
glass by the Saxons, viz., Vitrum, means woad as well as glass, 
and we know that this plant was largely grown and used at 
one time in our county, wherever the soil was suitable, which 
it certainly was in this parish. 

Another industry which was in full swing the greater 


part of last century was that of brewing. Formerly brewing 
was carried on in private houses, and in the church house, in 
our country parishes. The earliest form of beverage which 
the Britons drank was that called mead, composed of 
wheat and honey, and against which a Greek physician 
warned his patients as producing pain in the head and injury 
to the nerves. 

The Saxons were addicted to this beverage, and one of 
their fond hopes for a future life was that they might drink 
it after death out of the skulls of their conquered enemies as 
a reward for their valour. 

But cuirm was the Saxon's ordinary and chief drink. So 
absorbing was his love of it, and so deep his customary 
potations, and so mischievous at times were the results, that 
it was found necessary, in the reign of King Edgar, to enact a 
law that into every tavern drinking pot should be driven a 
certain number of pegs at measured intervals, and that no 
one at a single draught should drink more liquor than lay 
within the space of two of these pegs. 

From this curious law, we are told, arose the common 
expression addressed to a person who was in bad spirits, 
" You are a peg too low." 

Later on the usual beverage was beer, composed of 
pure barley, which was very strong and unwholesome, 
and in mediaeval days many householders brewed their own 
ale from barley, which was not hopped, and, therefore, had to 
be rapidly consumed. There were, of course, regular brew- 
men or brewsters and also brewery women. The name for a 
brewer was brasiator, a name which was handed down in this 
parish under the guise of Bracey. The law was very severe 
against these people brewing poor ale, selling it at excessive 
prices, and using false measures. To insure against this, 
regular ale tasters were appointed, and heavy fines had to be 
paid to the Lord of the Manor when the ale taster denounced 
any brewer for breaking the law, or as it was called, the "assize " 
of bread and beer. 

Such persons might even be condemned to the tumbrel 


or dung cart, so particular were they that none should infringe 
the law. 

In the year 1489 a Holcombe man, called Robert Hoskyns, 
a brasiator, or brewer, was cited to appear before the hundred 
court at Kilmersdon, then held at Babington, for infringing 
the law in this respect, and selling adulterated liquor. He is 
" in mercy," as the phrase went, that is, he was left to the 
tender mercies of the court. " In the early part of the 15th 
century," says Mr. Denton, " beer was sometimes imported 
into England from Prussia, but in the latter part of that 
century English beer had gained a reputation on the conti- 
nent, and much was exported from England to Flanders." 

" Barley," says a physician of this period, " is the 
English vine." 

It was a complaint heard more than once that more corn 
was malted than was eaten for food, for the English, like the 
other nations of northern Europe, among whom the Flemings 
may be included, were great drunkards. 

The number of ale houses in every village was excessive, 
but then we must remember that ale or beer was the only 
drink, except water, within the means of the labouring 
population. Tea, coffee, and cocoa had not been heard of. 
Of course there was a much better class of hostelry in the 
towns and on all the main roads. 

But besides these there were 16 taverns and 215 tippling 
houses in Somerset alone. The latter were for the most part 
kept by women, and though they were expected to close them 
by 9 o'clock, and put out the light in the lantern, which was 
ordered by law to be hung up as a sign outside, they often 
kept them open all night. At these houses home-brewed ale 
was retailed at a halfpenny a gallon ; but this was very thin 
stuff. Ordinary ale cost a penny a gallon, and the best or 
strongest, fourpence. 

Cider and perry, though early drinks, were seldom seen 
at an ale-house. 

The art of making cider and perry appears to have been 
taught the Britons by their Roman conquerors, who named 


those beverages pyrum and sidera, from which our modern 
names have been derived. 

In Norman days, however, pears were called Pearmains. 
The modern word apple is evidently from the Celtic Avail or 
Aball. Hence Avalonen, " an apple orchard," one of the 
ancient names of Glastonbury. 

Cider in modern days was the staple beverage of the 
Western Counties. It was home brewed in most gentlemen's 
and farm houses. By the old truck system it was given in 
part lieu of wages. This has been altogether disallowed by 
Act of Parliament. 

Cider in late Latin means strong or intoxicating drink. 
In Wycliffe's New Testament the words are, " He schel not 
drink wyn ne syder," where the translation now is, " He 
shall not drink wine nor strong drinks." Wine made of 
pearmains or pears was considered a drink suitable to set 
before a king. Fox, in his book of Martyrs, says of King 
John, " This ague he increased by eating peaches and drinking 
of new ciser," or, as we call it, cider. 

Ardent spirits were also drunk in this country. This 
intoxicant was Aquavite, French Eau-de-vie, now Cognac 
brandy. The man who hawked about this drink was called 
the Aquaviteman. His usual cry was not 

" Come buy my olives, none so fair, 
Rosolio and sparkling wine." 

as in " Masaniello," but 

" Buy any brand wine, 
Buy any brand wine." 

Here we see the etymology of brandy. 
The author remembers well the home-brewed ale which 
his father's gardener brewed. It was very small indeed, and 
naturally very harmless. But Adam's ale was preferable. 
A propos he cannot help quoting an epitaph, for which he must 
apologise to any total abstaining readers : — 
" Here lies a British Grenadier, 
Who died from drinking cold small beer ; 
Reader, be warned by his untimely fall, 
And when you drink, drink strong or not at all." 


Far different was the ale he once tasted in the renowned 
cellars of Barclay & Perkins, in Southwark. The draymen 
employed in that brewery were Hungarians, who just pre- 
viously had mobbed another visitor to the brewery on dis- 
covering that he was none other than the Austrian General, 
Hanow, whose severity in putting down the Hungarian 
Revolution under Kossuth in 1848 had raised their undying 

The cash book of the Holcombe brewery, established in 
the year 1800, where the ale brewed was of a very sound and 
pure quality, was kindly lent the writer by Messrs. Thatcher, of 
Welton, through G. Gloyn, Esq. It is stated there that the 
founder of the brewery, Mr. Emanuel Green, had succeeded 
in producing a quality of beer that met with public patronage, 
that it was unrivalled in uniformity and delicacy of flavour, 
which it has ever maintained since. This was attributed to 
the purity of the water flowing off a fine bed of clay, without 
the possibility of admixture with any mineral substance. 
The writer of this says that they were able to make a very 
good start in 1800, because the quality of the malt in 1799 was 
so particularly fine. At that date the Rev. William Ashman 
prophesied that the brewery would be a great one, which 
prophecy was verified. 

It maintained its reputation during the greater part of 
the 19th century, and starting upon a very humble scale, 
became an extensive business, enabling the members of the 
firm to build several substantial dwelling-houses in the parish, 
and be of good service to their church and country. 

The collapse of the business was chiefly owing to the 
division of the funds amongst various members of the family, 
diverting the capital from its former uses. It has been a 
great loss to the parish in general. The business is now 
carried on by Messrs. Thatcher, at Welton, who still use part 
of the old premises, not inaptly styled " Beer- Abbey "by a 
facetious friend owing to its antiquated style of building and 
almost monumental size. 

Several other small local and domestic industries were car- 


ried on by the people of Holcombe and neighbouring villages in 
the 18th and 19th centuries. A large number of cottages then 
stood in the neighbourhood of Hambridge, and a Mr. Lucius 
Tapp, whose name appears in the list of our churchwardens, 
employed their inhabitants, as I have mentioned elsewhere, 
in various crafts connected with the woollen trade. This 
man's son, John Tapp, unhappily embezzled the money of the 
County Cess, and was transported for forging a cheque to 
make it good. The knitting of stockings, also, was a domestic 
pursuit carried on in these people's homes. 

A man called Denning, and another called Jenks, brought 
over the rough wool from Frome, and distributed it in the 
various cottages on Kilmersdon Common. These stockings 
were carried back by the same men and sold in Frome market. 
A coarse kind of jersey ]was also knitted, and bought up by an 
enterprising tradesman at Nettlebridge, one Mr. Urch, who 
carried on a large and nourishing business. 

Gloving was also carried on by the^girls in their homes. 
Several different hands had to be employed in turning out the 
complete article. Spinning was almost a staple business 
somewhat earlier, and we find the overseers supplying 
" turns," or spinning-wheels, to the labouring classes. Any- 
body going down Holcombe Hill at that date would have 
heard the whirr of these spindles, and might also have realised 
Shakespeare's beautiful picture in "Twelfth Night" of the 
spinsters and the knitters sitting in the sun, and the free 
maids weaving their thread with bones, singing in time to 
their work. 

Hat-making also was carried on in the village, and 
the business was not given up till about fifty years ago. A 
Mr. Hancock was the last hatter in Holcombe. Beaver hats 
were made for the upper classes and felt for the working men. 

Felt was largely imported from the Netherlands by the 
Flemings. Thus Lydgate writes : — 

" Flemings began on me to cry 
Master which will you cope or buy, 
Fine felt hats or spectacles to read." 


The blocks on which these hats were shaped and crowned, 
gave the name to the hatters themselves, who were often 
called blockers. They also gave rise to the opprobrious title 
of " Blockheads/' 

The pattern of a man's hat must have been a special 
consideration in those days, when the question wasfso fre- 
quently asked, " Who's your hatter ? " 

The fashion in hats also seems to have been very fluctuat- 
ing, since Shakespeare makes Beatrice say in " Much Ado 
about Nothing " : "He wears his faith but as the fashion 
of his hat, it ever changes with the next block." 

The silk hat superseded that made nominally of beaver, 
but largely also of rabbit skins, and has been one of the most 
extraordinary freaks of civilised life. 

In this uncouth and ridiculous head-dress, aptly called 
a tiler, or chimney pot, our sires played cricket, rowed races, 
lounged about, and went to church, where by a strange per- 
version they used them to conceal their faces when making the 
preliminary private prayer, which custom caused the natural 
enquiry of the small child : " Mother ! why does father smell 
his hat when he first comes into church ?" 

The writer once saw a churchwarden hold a tall silk hat 
at the church door to collect the offerings of the congregation. 
A silk hat played a man a bad trick when used for a like, 
though not so praiseworthy a purpose. He had rushed 
hurriedly to the bank at the time of the panic caused by the 
smash of Overend and Gurney, which crippled Sir E. Baker, 
Mr. Mansel Pleydell, and other enterprising Dorset gentlemen, 
and demanded all his deposits there in cash. Having no other 
receptacle he placed it all in his hat, the crown of which gave 
way, and the coins were scattered amongst a delighted, 
scrambling crowd upon the steps of the bank outside. 

But hat-making, together with nearly all other kin- 
dred occupations, is no longer practised in our country 
villages, for machinery has long since rung the death knell of 
domestic industries. The power loom quite superseded the 
hand loom ; the spinning jenny, patented by Hargraves in 


1770, and other mechanical inventions, as the water frame 
and self-acting mule completely altered the character of the 
cotton manufacture ; steam clinched the matter and revo- 
lutionised all these industries. It replaced handicraftsmen by 
" hands," and swept the population eventually off the land, 
to herd together in urban centres, and to be choked by factory 
smoke instead of breathing the pure oxygen of the country. 
This has been the greatest social revolution of modern times, 
and has sown a crop of the gravest social problems. 

Chapter XII. 


THE pains and penalties with which violations of the 
criminal and moral law were visited in early days 
were barbarous and strange. 
Mutilation was one of the worst. It was cruel enough to 
" lawe " dogs, that is, to cut off part of their pads to prevent 
them poaching, but it was much worse to practise this on 
human beings, and cut off fingers and ears and other parts, 
and put out the orbs of light. Yet thisjwas practised. 

Drowning was another very old punishment. Kemble in 
the first volume of his " Codex Diplomaticus," speaks of a 
woman who for aiming at the life of a nobleman, was drowned 
on London Bridge in the middle of the tenth century. Traitors 
were bound to pillars in the Thames used for mooring vessels 
at Wood Wharf, near Baynard's Castle, and left there two 
floods and two ebbs of the tide. Execution dock still remained 
at Wapping in Pennant's Day, 1790, as he tells us where a 
contemporary gallows had been placed at low water mark to 
execute criminals and leave their bodies to be washed by 
three successive tides. 

Flogging, again, was a degrading and harsh penalty often 
used. The Anglo-Saxons scourged prisoners with a whip of 
three cords knotted at the end. Whipping vagrants was 
carried to a cruel extent. Whipping was a punishment for 
incontinence. At the Assizes at Ilchester in 1618 Mary 
Woburn, of Coleford, and Stephen Ruddle, of Leigh, collier, 
were both ordered to be whipped at the place where the 
illegitimate child was born, the latter having confessed to 
being the father of the child. 

Whipping posts were provided in our towns and villages, 
and persons were whipped at the cart's tail as well. Then 
there was that most notorious form of chastisement for 
women, the cucking stool. 



This was originally only used on land, and was a peculiar 
kind of chair in which the woman was placed and subjected 
to the derision and insults of the populace. When fitted with 
wheels and drawn round the town it was called a tumbrel, but 
the cucking stool was also used later for ducking scolds in the 
water to cool their tempers. It was worked with a lever, and 
the chair at the end of the beam was capable of being raised or 
lowered into the water. 

Some poor women were ducked so severely that death 
followed .afterwards. The site where the Ducking Stool was 
situated at Frome is, I believe, still shown close to the town 

A worse remedy for a scold or scandal-mongering woman 
was called a brank, it was also called a scold's bridle, or gossip's 
bridle, or bridle for a " curste quean." It came into use later 
than the cucking stool. 

It was an iron cage in which the woman's head was 
placed, and which was afterwards locked and armed in front 
with a gag or plate or sharp cutting knife. This was placed 
in the poor woman's mouth to prevent her moving her tongue, 
which was cut in a frightful manner if she attempted to do so. 
A chain was attached to this head-gear by which the un- 
fortunate woman was led about by the bellman, beadle, or 
constable, or chained to the pillory or whipping post or market 
cross, to be there subjected to every conceivable insult and 
degradation. This was a punishment worthy of the worst 
days of the Spanish Inquisition. 

The pillory was also used in early days, and was called by 
the Normans " stretch neck." It was a board erected on a 
pole standing on a platform, into which a man's head and 
hands were thrust, and he was thus made a standing spectacle 
to all men. The most conspicuous victims were Leighton, 
the good archbishop's father, Prynne, Bastwick, and Burton, 
sentenced to the pillory by the Star Chamber, also Titus Oates, 
the perjured informer against Popish recusants, and Daniel 
Defoe, the author of the most popular romance of our child- 
hood, " Robinson Crusoe." 


Then came the stocks. They were a very common 
method of punishment, and were used at a very early date in 

In the second statute of labourers in Edward Ill's reign, 
and in Henry IV's reign, they were ordered in every village 
and town. In 1606 drunkenness was punished by 5/- fine, or 
six hours in the stocks. 

Vagrants also were put into the stocks. So in Canning's 
" Needy Knife Grinder," written against the Chartist agitators, 
the man is made to say that the justice had " put Jhim into 
the village stocks for a vagrant." 

Cardinal Wolsey was once placed in the stocks at Lyming- 
ton, near Yeovil, by Sir Amias Poulett, a strict moralist of that 
day, for making too free with the glass at a village revel, he 
being at that time rector of the parish. 

The stocks lingered on into later times, and the writer 
once saw a man and woman placed in them at Marlborough 
for being drunk and incapable, where they were being pelted 
with mud by the boys of the place. This must have been 
before 1859. Stocks are still seen in some places, and were 
still existent at Templecombe in 1880. They may still be 
seen near Hungerford and Southwold and Falkland near 

The most fearful punishment in early days was that 
inflicted upon prisoners who refused to plead guilty or not 
guilty. If the charge were felony, a jury was empannelled to 
try whether such an one stood mute by malice or mute by the 
visitation of God. 

If this last were found, the trial went on ; if otherwise, he 
was solemnly warned by the judges of the terrible consequences 
of contumacious silence, and after time given him for reflec- 
tion he was adjudged to suffer the " peine forte et dure." It 
consisted of this. The culprit was imprisoned in a low, 
darkened dungeon, he was stripped naked, save for a cloth 
about his loins, and being laid down upon his back, a weight 
of iron was placed upon his chest, food was but scantily 
supplied in the shape of three morsels of bread on the first 


and third days and three draughts of stagnant water, and so 
on on alternate days till all the strength and life was pressed 
out of the unhappy victim. 

This punishment was held over Lord Stourton in terrorem 
as we find in Strype's Memorials, when he was tried at West- 
minster Hall in 1556 before the judges and divers of the 
council for the murder of the Hartgills, and refused to 
answer the charge laid against him. The words are : — 
" It was long ere he would answer, till at last the chief 
justice stood up and declared to him that if he would no; 
answer to the charge laid against him that he was to be 
prest to death by the laws of the land." 

So this awful punishment of the Peine Forte et Dure was 
still in the statute books and still open to be carried into 
execution at that late date of 1556. 

The burning of heretics is, of course, too well known to 
be noticed, but the custom of carrying the house of the 
harbourer of a heretic out of the town and burning it may be 
mentioned as showing how flimsy and frail houses were in the 
England of early days. 

In days not so long gone by the village people had a 
special way of their own for showing their indignation against 
a wife-beating and churlish husband. Riding the stang, or 
skimmington, or " skimmity riding," was the name of this 
curious custom. It consisted in a procession of village people 
with two performers in a cart, one of whom represented the 
ill-treated wife, the other the bullying husband. The mock 
husband beat his wife unmercifully, and the crowd made 
horrid music with pots and pans, ladles and skimmers, from 
which the word skimmington is derived. Arrived at the 
culprit's' house the noise was redoubled, and an effigy of the 
husband often burnt before his windows. So they tried to 
shame him out of his bullying and scolding temper, The 
writer^remembers a certain John Hazzard, of Horsington, who 
was thus treated for beating his wife, a little weak, poor- 
spirited creature, who had borne with him patiently for years. 
The sequel was most touching though tragic. The house 


caught fire in the night, and being mostly of thatch, was burnt 
down before the fire engines could arrive. The wife might 
easily have escaped, as her son did, by jumping out of a 
window near the ground, but she tried her best to rescue her 
husband, who had become a cripple and was bed-ridden. It 
was beyond her strength, and they both perished in the 
flames. She left behind her a splendid example of self- 
forgetfulness and devotion. 

There is, however, another version given of this practice 
of " riding skimmington." It was a ludicrous cavalcade in 
ridicule of a man beaten by his wife ; it consisted of a man 
riding behind a woman with his face to the horse's tail, holding 
a distaff in his hand, at which he seems to work, the woman 
all the while beating him with a ladle," a smock displayed on 
a staff is carried before them as an emblematical standard, 
denoting female superiority ; they are accompanied by what 
is called " rough music," that is frying pans, bull's horns, 
marrow bones, and cleavers ; a procession strikingly described 
by Butler in Hudibras, Part II, Canto II : — 
" Quoth Ralpho you mistake the matter, 
For all the antiquity you smatter 
Is but a Riding us'd of course 
When the grey mare's the better horse ; 
When wives their sexes shift like hares, 
And ride their husbands like night-mares, 
And they in mortal battle vanquished." 

This passage is admirably illustrated by Hogarth in an 
edition of Hudibras, in which all the details of the custom are 

In a village near Marlborough there was a mock~proces- 
sion got up by the village lads, when conjugal infidelity was 
imputed to any of their neighbours. This is called The Woosel, 
and is similar to the custom of riding the stang or skimmington 
riding in Somerset. 

At Montacute House.. I am told, the practice is depicted 
in sculpture in a bold and fine manner. 

Another illustration of this sort of lynch law is found in 
the old custom which went by the term of " Lydforddaw." 


Lydford was a small town in Devonshire, where a court was 
held which, says Blunt in his tenures, was heretofore of great 
extent, the course whereof is very summary. From this pro- 
ceeded the proverb, " First hang and draw, then try the case 
by Lidford law." 

This was a most extraordinary custom, and Mr. Ray calls 
it a libellous proverb. " Yet I find," says Mr. Beckwith (in 
his notes on Blount's Tenures, 1784), " that the custom of some 
countries is such that if one has committed burglary or other 
felony, and he be pursued by hue and cry from town to town, 
and so taken flying he must be beheaded in the presence of the 
inhabitants of four towns, and so, by the usage of that country 
he is accounted a felon, and this must be recorded in the 
coroner's roll, and afterwards the coroner must present it 
before the justices, and they will adjudge him a felon, and so 
he must first be put to death and after judged a felon." 

The real sense of the custom was, it is supposed, this, that 
the Lidford prison was so foul, and the chances of deliverance 
so remote, that prisoners chose rather to submit to death than 
await their trial, and so were executed first and sentenced 

Lidford was in the jurisdiction of the Stannary Court, 
which was very severe and cruel. 

A parallel instance happened in the village of Charlton, 
a hamlet of Kilmersdon, when four thieves passing through 
the hundred of Kilmersdon were captured and beheaded. 
The case was tried at Ilchester before Judge Roger de Thur- 
kibby and his companions, the 27th year of Henry I, and the 
culprits who thus took the law into their own hands, were 
put upon the mercy of the court. 

But the cruel prosecution and execution of witches was 
the greatest blot upon the civilisation and religious profession 
of our ancestors. All down the ages, from the witch of 
Endor's day, this detestable superstition prevailed, and had 
its wretched victims by scores and hundreds. James I was a 
regular demonologist, and in his reign there was a perfect 
epidemic of witchcraft. The puritan divines looked upon it 


as heresy to question the existence of witches, because the 
Bible seemed to recognise them. The strange thing was that 
the victims believed in it themselves, and often stated that 
belief openly when tried and condemned to death. 

Mr. Hawker, of Morwenstow, in his interesting sketches 
of Cornish life, tells us that two-thirds of the total inhabitants 
of Tamar side implicitly believe in the power of the " Mai 
Occio," as the Italians name it, or evil eye. 

He further says, that the old notion that a wizard or 
witch so became by a nefarious bargain with the enemy of 
mankind, and by a surrender of their soul to his ultimate 
grasp, although still held in many a nook of our western 
valleys, and by the crooning dame at her solitary hearth, 
appears to have been exchanged for a persuasion that the 
witches inherited their faculty from their birth. Whispers of 
forbidden ties between their parents, and of monstrous and 
unhallowed alliances, of which these children are the issue, 
largely prevail, he says, in the village of Holacombe or Hole- 
combe. He tells us that the people declare you can distinguish 
witches by certain well-known marks, as, five black spots 
under the tongue, peculiar eyeballs, etc., etc. 

A horrible method of obtaining the power of the evil eye 
was said to be used by the evil disposed. A man had to go 
to the chancel, and receive the sacramental bread, and secrete 
it and bring it home, and take it the next night round church 
widdershins, i.e., from south to north, crossing by east three 
times, and put the bread in the mouth of a gaping ugly toad 
he would meet on his third round, which ghastly creature 
would breathe upon the giver three times, and he or she 
would become a strong wizard or witch for ever. 

There were various tests to ascertain whether an accused 
woman was guilty or not. That by sinking or floating when 
flung into a pond or river was one. If she did not drown it 
was a sure sign of evil, for having by her compact with the 
devil renounced the benefit of the waters of baptism, that 
element in its turn renounced her, and refused to receive here 
into its bosom. On the other hand, if she sunk, as was only 


natural, there was an end to her torture. Again, another 
plan was to weigh her against the Church Bible, which if she 
was guilty would preponderate, and as these Bibles were very 
heavy, and she, poor soul, generally not much better than a 
skeleton, she had not much chance to escape. Then they 
would be set to say the Lord's Prayer, which was generally 
too much for them, and no wonder, for a half-crazed creature, 
full of fear and pain. 

A witch, too, they said, cannot weep more than three 
tears. This want of tears was by the witch finder considered 
a very substantial proof of guilt. One more very drastic 
method of paralysing a witch was to draw her blood, but 
generally her skin was found too tough to be pierced by the 

Mr. Hawker tells us that a service of exorcism was once 
performed over a female ghost, who walked the fields at times, 
and frightened the people out of their wits. It was performed 
by a certain simple-minded parson of Launceston, who first 
went to his bishop, and after some misgivings on that prelate's 
part, on account, as he said, of the possible effects upon the 
minds of weak brethren, was allowed in accordance with 
the Canons of the Church, to carry it out. It was all done in 
most approved fashion of exorcism. A circle was made on 
the grass, with a pentacle marked in the midst of it, and at 
the intersection of five angles he set up his crutch of rawn or 
rowan. This, as I have said elsewhere, was the rod of the 
rowan tree or mountain ash, used by the Druids as a sovereign 
charm against the dire effects of enchantment and witchcraft. 
Here, in the 19th century, was a clergyman of the Church of 
England still believing in such a gross superstition, and using 
it in all good faith, for what he held to be a worthy purpose. 

The sequel exceeds belief, and shows that he was either 
the victim of a fraud played upon him, or of his own disordered 
mind. For the ghost, a woman, appeared, swam into the 
midst of the circle, confessed her sins, for which she said she 
had to wander to and fro, was duly exorcised, and never 
appeared again. 



The author would be sorry to question altogether the 
existence of ghosts, or the credibility of their walking upon 
the earth and occupying haunted houses. There are too many 
well accredited accounts of these occurrences to warrant any- 
one denying their truth. 

The morbid fear of witches was shared in by men of 
known goodness, kindness, and enlightened genius. Sir 
Matthew Hale, a most upright judge, convicted two women 
tried before him for witchcraft. Sir Thomas Brown, author 
of " Vulgar Errors," asserts that those who disbelieved in 
witchcraft were no better than atheists. The pious Baxter, 
who wrote the " Saint's Rest," actually approved of the 
atrocious legal murder of an aged minister who had a record 
of 50 years' excellent ministerial work, but at the age of 80 had 
gone off his head, and was accused of dealings with the devil. 
The credulity, however, even of such men is less to be won- 
dered at, considering the early date, than that so late as 1768 
John Wesley should deliberately write in his journal : " The 
giving up of witchcraft is in effect giving up the Bible." 

In 1664 there seems to have been a perfect epidemic of 
witchcraft in the villages round the town of Wincanton. We 
find this narrated by the Rev. Joseph Glanville, who was 
Chaplain in Ordinary to His Majesty James II, and Fellow 
of the Royal Society, and thoroughly believed in the existence 
of witches. It is unnecessary to dwell upon this, as the 
whole matter is so fully recorded by Mr. Sweetman in his 
" History of Wincanton." 

Frome, also, seems to have had an unenviable notoriety 
for the same persecution of witches. We find in the " Gentle- 
man's Magazine " of 1731, that an atrocious act of murder 
was perpetrated upon a poor old woman accused by a 
11 cunning man," as he was called, or a " white witch," of 
having bewitched the daughter of one Wheeler, who had been 
seized with strange fits. They dragged her, shivering with 
ague, out of her house, set her astride upon the pommel of a 
saddle, and carried her about two miles to a mill pond, stripped 
off her upper clothes, tied her legs, and with a rope about her 


middle, threw her in, two hundred spectators huzzaing and 
abetting the riot. They affirm she swam like a cork, though 
forced several times under the water, and no wonder, for 
when they strained the line, the ends of which were held on 
each side of the pond, she must, of necessity, rise, but by 
haling and often plunging, she drank water enough. When 
almost spent they poured in brandy to revive her, drew her to 
a stable, threw her on some litter in her wet clothes, where 
about an hour after she expired." So says the " Gentleman's 
Magazine," 1731, and adds, that owing to complicity amongst 
the perpetrators of the outrage, only three could be charged 
with manslaughter and condemned to death, though more 
than 40 persons were implicated in the deed. 

Even as late as 1880 a case came before the board of 
Guardians of the Shaftesbury Union, which showed how long 
this superstition lingered in the west. A man of fifty applied 
for relief as unable to work. The doctor would not specify 
any disease, but the man said he was " overlooked " by his 
sister-in-law. His wife had been to a wise woman at Stal- 
bridge, who had relieved him for a few days, but since then 
the spell had been too mighty, and he was as bad as ever. He 
declined medical aid as useless. There was a Board School at 
Gillingham, where he lived, yet its education had not eradi- 
cated this ancient superstition. 

There are several other instances which the author can 
vouch for, of application being made to, and faith shown in 
the powers of this same wise woman at Stalbridge, in Dorset- 

According to the statement of a coachman at Horsington, 
employed by the author's father in 1865, she cured some pigs 
which were supposed to be possessed, as they could not be 
kept within bounds, and would not eat. This wise woman 
was consulted secretly at night, by many coming from a 
distance. She was summoned before the magistrates in Petty 
Sessions for receiving money upon false pretences, and pro- 
fessing to be endowed with supernatural and magical power, and 
though she confessed to fraud, her dupes believed in her still. 


Her fame was established by a most singular coincidence. A 
farmer passing by her door one summer evening, on his way 
to his home near Sherborne, used some opprobrious language 
towards her, as she stood outside. Some neighbours heard 
her mutter a curse against him, and say that he should never 
reach his own door alive. Strange to say he never did, for 
he was thrown from his horse on his homeward journey and 
killed on the spot. 

In November, 1870, the Rector of Stalbridge spoke of 
this woman's evil doings to the writer's father, and said she 
appeared to be possessed by Satan, and that all kinds of ini- 
quity went on at her house. He said she carried on an 
extensive correspondence. Her name was Williams, and her 
age was about 55 years. 

Strange methods of counteracting these supposed evil 
influences were often resorted to. At the town of Wells, the 
wife of a working man became mentally afflicted, and was 
removed to a lunatic asylum. Immediately before her de- 
parture it was stated that she was bewitched, and the following 
mode of removing the spell cast over her was presented to the 
husband. First, he must stick a large number of pins into 
an animal's heart, which in the dead of night was to be roasted 
over a quick fire, the revolutions of the heart to be as regular 
as possible. After roasting it the heart was to be placed in 
the chimney and left there, the belief being that, as the heart 
rotted away, so would the heart of the witch rot, and the 
bewitched or overlooked would be released from the power of 
her enemy. 

In former days it was usual to hang up over the " byre," 
or stable, a stone-flint with a hole in it called a "hag's stone." 
Otherwise the horses in the morning would be found covered 
with sweat and foam, and the cows with their udders dry, 
having been ridden by the witch. 

" Charm evil spirits away by dint of sickle, horse-shoe, 
or hollow flint." So Butler says in Hudibras. The sickle or 
crescent, of course, was the emblem often used, and which 
eventually was superseded by the horse-shoe. This was hung 


up on every stable door, that horses might be free from night 
sweats, and witch-knotted manes and tails. 
Herrick advises : — 

" To hang up hook and spear to scare, 
Hence the hag that rides the mare." 

Horse-shoes were also an invariable amulet hung on all 
old house doors to keep off the witches and fairies from the 

A custom used in Oriental countries to avert the evil eye 
is to attach a piece of red cloth, or any attractive article, upon 
the thing hanging up in the butcher's or baker's shop on 
which the witch's blasting eye might rest. In this way it was 
hoped to divert it. For the same purpose they used amulets 
of various kinds against the power of fascination. Anything 
grotesque and queer that the eye would first light upon, such 
as a hideous gorgon's head, like that of the medusa, a horrid 
mask, or anything of the kind was fixed up as a talisman to 
protect the house. This is the origin of the hideous gargoyles 
in church architecture of the middle ages, when this belief 
in witchcraft was so rampant. Amulets were of three kinds : 
those worn outside the dress ; secondly, all charms worn or 
carried secretly, hidden beneath the dress ; and thirdly, the 
written words of Scripture, the Koran or the cabalistic 
figure and formulae, considered so powerful. One amulet of 
peculiar interest was the leaf-shaped arrow head or javelin's 
head. Prof. Evans gives an engraving of one such mounted 
in a silver frame, with the initials of the owner and his wife at 
the back. 

Another amulet must be mentioned. This was the 
formula upon the Hornbook or child's primer invoking the 
protection of the Holy Trinity. " In the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." This was written or 
printed just below the alphabet. Once more the thumb 
inverted and laid down between the two first fingers of the 
hand was a very commonly used method of counteracting the 
witch's influence. What magnified the evil was that the 
dread of witchcraft encouraged the profession of a class of 


men and women, who pretended to be able to dispel the 
witch's spell and charm away the effect of their evil eye. 
Many in early days throve upon this shameful business. 
Latterly they confined their interference to acting as witch 
doctors. The qualification for this office was to be the seventh 
son of a seventh son born directly, with no females intervening. 
Mr. Hawker tells us that such a person existed in the village 
of Holacombe, in Cornwall, whose name was Uncle Toby 
Cleverdon, and went by the title of Doctor. This man said 
that his lucky birth was as good as a fortune to him. Though 
forbidden to take money, he received it practically in hospi- 
tality. Mr. Ellworthy tells us in his " West Somerset Dialect " 
that this title of Doctor is always given to the seventh son in a 
family born in succession without a girl, and that he is believed 
to be born with special aptness for the healing art. In the 
Cotswolds also the same qualification accredits a man with 
the faculty of second sight, and the bogey of one about to die 
is always visible to such a person. We had, it appears, the 
doubtful honour of such persons living in this parish, a good 
many years ago, as among the recipients of charity and the 
payers for bastardy we find in our registers the names of 
Doctor Langley and Doctor Widcombe. The same title of 
Doctor appears to be found in the parish registers of Kil- 
mersdon, and, no doubt, in other parishes. This man was the 
regular survival of the white witch of former days. No 
doubt he was a much more respectable, harmless individual. 
He was accredited with the faculty of the healing touch, 
which was a kind of king's prerogative, hundreds being 
allowed to be touched by our Stewart kings for scrofula 
or the King's Evil. In the register of Bedworth, in Warwick- 
shire, for the year 1719, we find that the practice was 
denounced of going to be touched by a seventh son in order to 
cure diseases, and then wearing the silver emblem he gave his 
visitor. In the Dublin University Magazine for August, 1879, 
the silver charm alluded to is thus described : — " A particular 
ceremony must be observed at the moment of the infant's 
birth in order jto give him his healing power. The person who 


receives him in her arms places in his tiny hand whatever 
substance she decides that he shall rub with in after life, and 
she is very careful not to let him touch anything until this has 
been accomplished. If silver be the charm, she has provided 
a sixpenny or threepenny bit, but as the coinage of the realm 
may change possibly during his lifetime and thus render his 
cure valueless, she has more likely placed salt or meal on the 
table within reach." 

There is no doubt of the influence of the evil eye which 
the wizards and witches exercised, however we are pleased to 
account for it. Of old it was considered supernatural and 
demoniacal. These persons were supposed to have made a 
compact with the evil one, and to work their spells by his 
agency, and no doubt we cannot gainsay the existence of evil 
spirits nor the possibility of their instilling evil thoughts and 
malicious designs into the minds of the wretched beings who 
carried on the foul practices of witchcraft and sorcery. There 
are too many demons in this world to make us doubt their 
existence in the other. Every unbiassed mind must allow 
that which scripture asserts, that there is a whole world of 
facts, operations, and conditions, with which our human 
senses and powers of comprehension are quite incapable of 
dealing. The phenomena of second sight, thought-reading, 
clairvoyance, spiritualism, and faith healing (as at Lourdes) 
cannot be altogether set aside as the delusion of crazy minds, 
or the frauds of charlatans and impostors. Even such a 
thing as the virtue of the diviner's rod, a genuine instance of a 
faculty possessed by a few, and hitherto inexplicable, must be 
taken as an evidence of some mysterious power which science 
cannot at present either account for or explain away. 

Telepathy also is another phenomenon which has only of 
late years received a certain measure of scientific explanation. 

Many instances, says Mr. Preece, can be quoted to show 
that surprising results in the way of communication at a 
distance may be accomplished between two persons who are 
in thorough sympathy with each other, and who undergo 
careful training in the transmission of thought. An instance 


of this occurred at the death of General Gordon. The event 
was known in Cairo the same day, and could not possibly have 
been transmitted over the distance of more than 1,000 miles 
by any other known means than that of mental telepathy 
between two natives dwelling severally at Khartoum and 
Cairo. Even now this would be relegated by many to the 
realm of the supernatural, but how much so would such a 
phenomenon have been so accounted for in the middle ages. 

But apart from this it is quite possible to imagine and 
account for such a malign influence as that of witchcraft and 
the evil eye, without connecting it with the occult world and 
supernatural influences. Animal magnetism, which some 
persons possess much more than others, may explain a good 
deal of the extraordinary power exercised by witches and 
wizards. This enables them to mesmerise their wretched 
victims, and fascinate them with their malignant glances as 
a cat fascinates a mouse, or a snake a bird. Hypnotism is 
only another form of the same influence. There have been 
many people in modern days who, had they been evilly dis- 
posed, could have done the same. The writer remembers a 
lady who came to Oxford in his day and held seances at the 
Star Assembly Rooms. The fascination she exercised over 
the Undergraduates was great, and she could make them do 
or say almost what she liked. She found a stronger will than 
hers, however, in a well-known Exeter man, afterwards 
Bishop of a southern diocese, and could do nothing with him. 

Witches were generally persons of morose and spiteful 
dispositions, who lived secluded lives and brooded over some 
fancied wrongs and misfortunes. They were often half 
crazed, and prided themselves in their superior power over 
weaker minds ; there is no doubt they believed in having 
occult powers and connection with evil sprites, and used to 
invoke them by name and speak of them endearingly. Of 
course it was all a delusion of their disordered brains and the 
result of seclusion, moroseness, and jealousy of their neigh- 
bours. Many of them no doubt were innocent of any evil 
intent and were simply the victims of popular superstition 


and puritanical fanaticism. Some peculiarity of visage such ^as 
a crafty piercing eye or some eccentricity of manner as a shifty 
look and prolonged stare subjected a woman to be stigmatised 
with witchcraft. But everywhere and always through the 
ages this detestable and fatal belief in witchcraft prevailed. 
The Romans believed in it implicitly. Horace says, '■ Let no 
one think to filch my goods with his squinting eye." Virgil 
sings, " Someone's eye may charm my tender lambs." Juvenal 
speaks of the habit of spitting thrice to dispel the witch's 
influence. Pliny says, " An ordinary thing it is with us to 
avert the evil eye by spitting in the witch's eye." In Spain the 
evil eye is believed to be the cause of various illnesses. In Scot- 
land it is well known that young infants are frequently thought 
to be overlooked, also cattle. A man may lay the evil eye 
even upon his own property, as when a husband must on no 
account see the churning operations, as his glance might 
prevent the butter coming ; even the mash-tub may be 
bewitched by the evil eye, or the sponge in baking, and 
counter charms must be used to avert the evils which might 
follow to the brewer and baker. Two hearts and a christs- 
cross must be drawn with the forefinger on the wash-tub or 
sponge to keep off the mischief of the evil eye. Water, into 
which silver coins have been put, will avert it in general cases. 
The water has to be raised with a wooden ladle from a stream 
over which pass the living and the dead in the name of the 
Trinity, the sign of the cross is made over the contents of the 
ladle, and a rhyme is repeated where the opening words of the 
Lord's Prayer, " Pater noster," is repeated seven times, but 
alternately, in the name of the Virgin, and of the King or Lord. 
In Italy Mr. Ellworthy tells us that this influence goes by 
two names. In the north it is Mai Occhio, in the south, 
Jettatore. The most extraordinary idea is current about the 
influence and personality of the person who is called a Jetta- 
tore or a Jettatrice. People fly from such persons when they 
appear in the street. The cabman apprehends the greatest 
danger to his horses, the bookseller to his books, so does the 
butcher, baker, fruit seller, and all others to their wares. 


At the appearance of a person having this reputation, a cry, 
" Jettatore," is passed, and even in a crowded street of 
Naples it causes an instantaneous vanishing of everybody, a 
stampede up entries, into shops, or elsewhere, in spite of the 
precaution of charms and antidotes. The equivalent for 
" Jettatore " in our language would be " fascinator," not 
used in a pleasing sense, as we do when we talk of a fascinating 
charming person, but in the sense of one whose glance and 
look are malign and of evil intention. The fascinator of 
infants, we are told, is everywhere the most dreaded in 
Italy. A gentleman on three occasions acted as a sponsor at 
Naples, and singularly all three of the children died, upon 
which he ever after got the reputation of having the evil eye, 
so that mothers who knew him took all sorts of precautions 
to keep their children out of his sight, and no one would for 
the world venture to ask him again to be god-father to a 
child. There are, we are told, many such innocent and 
upright yet unfortunate men in Italy, who because untoward 
incidents have attended their movements, are supposed to 
bring so much misfortune with them, that it is considered most 
unlucky to meet them or to have anything to do with them. 
Even Pope Pius the Ninth was thus stigmatised, and when 
people were blessed by him they actually held out two fingers 
at him, to counteract the influence of his evil eye. It is more 
extraordinary that this superstition should still linger in our 
country villages and districts, in spite of all our much vaunted 
high-class Board School education in the present day. 

Mr. Ellworthy, author of "West Somerset Dialect," says, 
" Here in Somerset the pig is taken ill and dies ; a murrain 
afflicts the farmer's cattle ; he goes to the white witch to learn 
the best antidote, ' 'Cause they there farriers can't do no 
good.' A child is ill and pining away ; the mother loses all 
heart ; she is sure the child is overlooked and is safe to die ; 
often she gives up, not only all hope, but all effort to save the 
child ; the consequent neglect of course hastens the expected 
result, and then it is, ' Oh, I know'd very well he would never 
get no better. Tid'n no good vor to strive vor to go agin it.' " 


This is no fancy or isolated case, but here in the last decade of 
the 19th century one of the commonest of every-day facts." 
The writer can vouch from his own experience for the cur- 
rency of this wretched superstition in 1880. 

Once after returning home the ducks were found to have 
all been killed and buried, and upon the question being asked 
why this had been done, the coachman answered that several 
others had died close by from being overlooked by an old 
crone in the village, and that these had been killed to save 
them from a like fate. The method adopted by these wizards 
and witches to work mischief against the persons they would 
hurt was by making images Of their victims in wax or clay, 
which they pricked with pins or needles continually, or 
roasted and melted, that the victim might be constantly 
vexed with pain or melted and dried away by sickness. 

This method of destruction by images has its close 
parallels in all parts of Europe. Boethius in his history says 
a waxen image of one of the Scottish Kings of the tenth 
century was fabricated for his destruction. Such again is 
the gruesome custom, relic of a barbarous age, known as the 
Corps Criadh, wfrch is said to have been practised within 
recent memory. A body of clay is rudely shaped into the 
image of the person whose hurt is intended. It is stuck all 
over with pins and thorns, and placed in a running stream. 
As the image is worn away by the action of the water the 
victim also wastes away with some mortal disease. The more 
pins that are stuck in from time to time, the more excruciating 
agony the unfortunate victim suffers. 

Mr. Ellworthy tells us that in our Somerset County 
Museum is to be seen more than one heart said to be those of 
pigs, stuck full of pins and thorns, which were found not 
long ago near his home. 

The last survivor of the witch with evil eye was the wise 
woman who was found in most districts, and was believed in 
more implicitly than the best medical man. Her simples, 
such as henbane, pellitory, borage, dandelion, and self-heal, 
were no doubt comforting and helpful in the case of common 


disorders of the system. Chickweed tea, colt's-foot wine, and: 
the juice of the greater celandine, are still deemed sovereign 
remedies in some districts, but they have not been retained in 
the British Pharmacopoeia. 

The remedies also of the wise woman, though efficacious 
in their immediate effects, were often fatal in the long run. 
To use a rather loose phrase they cured the disease, but killed 
the patient. Nature's safety valve was shut down, and the 
result was internal disaster. This was often the case with 
erysipelas, miscalled by the country folk, " The Hairy Slip- 
pery." This calls to mind other similar mistakes made by 
country folk as an " internal festival " (instead of " fistula "), 
and " corkscrews " in the blood instead of corpuscles, and 
" tar " in the stomach instead of catarrh. 

The " Femme Sage " is found in almost every town in 
Southern France. A neat brass plate upon her door proclaims 
her title, and her diploma of honour, from some medical 
college like Toulouse or Montpellier. She is always the 
accredited midwife. 

Unhappily the race of quacks and medical impostors, 
who are much more blameworthy than these old wise women, 
are not extinct, and still batten upon the savings of the poor, 
and yet the highest medical skill and nursing can be had for 
nothing all over the land. Hospitals, convalescent homes, 
and institutes like that of Pasteur, where the latest dis- 
coveries of science are brought to bear upon the treatment of 
disease and injury, are found in our large towns. Nothing is 
left to chance, to fate, to " Dr. Pillbox " and port wine. The 
patient's life may seem to hang upon a thread, and the 
disease be too far gone to be cured, but the doctor and nurse 
will keep up the fight while breath lasts, their motto being, 
" Dum spiro spero," while there's life there's hope. 

We conclude with some verse by Dr. Barnes, the Dorset 

poet : — 


" Ther's oik wold hag, Moll Brown, look zee, jist past ! 

I wish the ugly sly wold witch 

'Ood tumble auver into ditch ; 


I 'ooden pull her out not very fast. 

I don't think she's a bit belied ; I'll warn 

That she's a witch, if ever ther wer am. 

She did oone time a pirty deal o' harm 

To Farmer Gruff's vo'ke, down at Tower Farm, 

An' zoo, ya know tha soon begun to vind 

That she'd a left her evil wish behind. 

She soon bewitched 'em, and she had sich power 

That she did miake ther milk an' yale turn zour. 

An' addle all the eggs ther vowls die lae ; 

Tha cooden vetch the butter in the churn, 

An' all the cheese begun to turn 

All back agen to cuds an' whe ; 

The little pigs a-runnen wi' the zow 

Did zicken, zomehow, noobody knowd how, 

An' vail, an' turn ther snouts toward the sky, 

An' only gie oome little grunt, an' die ; 

An' all the little ducks an' chicken 

Wer dead-struck while they wer a-pickin 

Ther food, an' veil upon ther head, 

An' napped ther wings an' drapp'd down dead. 

Tha cooden fat the ca'ves, tha 'ooden thrive ; 

Tha cooden siave ther lams alive. 

Ther sheep wer al a coath'd, ar gied no wool, 

Tha hosses veil awoy to skin an' buones, 

An' got so weak tha cooden pull 

A hafe a peck o' stuones : 

The dog got dead-alive an' drowsy, 

The cat veil zick an' 'ooden mousy ; 

An' every time the vo'ke went up to bed, 

Tha wer a-hag-rod till tha wer hafe dead. 

Tha us'd to keep her out o' house, tis true, 

A-nailin' up at door a hosses shoe ; 

An' I've a-heard the farmer's wife did try 

To dake a niddle or a pin 

In droo her wold hard wither'd skin 

An' drae her blood, a comen by : 

But she cood never vetch a drap, 

For all the pins did ply an' niddles snap 

Agen her skin, ya know ; an' that in coose 

Did miake the hag bewitch 'em woose." 

Chapter XIII. 


THE only source of information as to the beliefs of pre- 
historic people is to be obtained from a survey of the 
remains which are found in sepulchral mounds, such 
as that which was opened upon Charmborough Hill in 1909. 

These seem to lead us to the conclusion that they believed 
in the survival of the soul and the reality of the after-life, call 
it Elysium, Hades, or what we will. To their minds, evi- 
dently, the tomb was as truly the habitation of the spirits of 
the dead as their huts were of the living. It was the home of 
the departed members of the family who were leading as real 
and actual and conscious a life as ever they did in the flesh. 
In token of this the survivors sought by every means to enable 
them to carry on the old life under the changed conditions of 
the grave. Hence offerings were made to them ; special 
ceremonies, such as they had participated in in their lifetime, 
were celebrated at their interment ; implements of various 
kinds, as flint flakes, arrow heads (broken at the point lest 
they should do injury to the living), scrapers, deer horns, and 
pottery were deposited in their tombs ; even fancy stones, 
pebbles, and glass beads and balls were placed within their 
reach to give them interest and amusement in the other 
world. The article, whatever it was, with which they had 
been most associated upon earth was laid in the tomb that 
they might not feel the new life altogether strange and un- 
earthly. Even their appetites were catered for, and food was 
placed in little food vessels, often found among the broken 
pottery, and in little cups cut in the solid stones, which were 
replenished from time to time, to be a kind of viaticum to 
them in their long journey or a provision for their sustenance 
in the cold grave. All this illustrates the firm belief of the 



survivors in the continuous life of the departed, and that they 
were not merely disembodied spirits, but in some shadowy 
sense still partakers of flesh and blood. The happy hunting 
ground of the Red Indian affords us a parallel belief in modern 
days. With the chief are buried still his war-horse and trap- 
pings, or his hunter's bow and arrow, and even the meaner 
utensils, such as the crocks and pans of domestic life. Against 
this too assiduous attention of relatives the Red Indian is 
supposed to utter his plaintive protest in Longfellow's 
" Hiawatha." The words are as follows : — 

" On that journey moving slowly, 
Many weary spirits saw he, ; 

Panting under heavy burdens, 
Laden with war clubs, bows and arrows, 
Robes of fur and pots and kettles, 
And with food that friends had given 
For that solitary journey. 
Ah why do the living, said they, 
Lay such heavy burdens on us ? 
Better were it to go naked, 
Better were it to go fasting, 
Than to bear such heavy burdens 
On our long and weary journey. 
Do not lay such heavy burdens 
In the graves of those you bury ; 
Not such weight of furs and wampuns, 
Not such weight of pots and kettles, 
For the spirit faints beneath them. 
Only give them food to carry, 
Only give them fire to light them. 
When the dead are buried, 
Let a fire as night approaches, 
Four times in their graves be kindled, 
That the soul upon its journey 
May not lack the cheerful firelight, 
May not grope abroad in darkness." 

Along with this, however, there mingled another strange 
and apparently contradictory belief. Though the pre- 
historic men paid all this attention to the wants of the deceased, 
they feared them, and dreaded their return; This tender 


regard for the welfare of the departed seems to have been a 
matter of precaution, and inspired by the fear of their resent- 
ment. Though they provided for the wants of their dead 
they had a horror of meeting and seeing them again. 

" There is," says Hearn, " in the savage mind no remem- 
brance of the loved one ; he is transfigured into a terrible 
bugbear, who must be evaded and avoided by every means 

Even in modern times, and on the Continent of Europe, 
the idea lingers that all means must be taken to scare away 
the spirits of the dead, and make it too hot for them to think 
of returning. 

Among the Slavs and Czecks, the relatives, after the 
funeral, on going home, turn themselves about every few 
steps and throw sticks, stones, mud, and even hot coals in the 
direction of the churchyard, so as to frighten the spirit back 
to the grave so considerately provided for it. 

In " Hamlet," at the funeral of Ophelia, the priest says, 
11 For charitable prayers shards, flints, and pebbles should be 
thrown upon her." 

So we read that at Manaton, in Warwickshire, at every 
funeral the dead were carried rapidly three or four times 
round the house to make them giddy, and unable to tell in 
which direction they were carried. 

All sorts of expedients are resorted to for preventing the 
return of the dead. Piles of stones are heaped over them ; 
they are buried deep in the earth ; they are burned ; they are 
sunk in the sea. The suicide had, as we all know, a stake 
stuck through his heart to fix him in his grave at the four 
cross roads. 

The dead are threatened, cajoled and bribed by copious 
supplies of food and drink, and even deterred from again 
seeking the confines of home life by the survivors and relatives 
leaving the larder bare and the house empty, and pouring 
water on the hearth to scare them away from it. 

But the Neolithic, or Stone Age men, with their cham- 
bered barrows, were succeeded by the Celts, a people of the 


Aryan family, who came over from the continent in two great 
waves of emigration, the first of which was effected by a race 
called Goidels or Gaels, and the second by another set of 
conquerors, the Brythons, from which name our Britain was 
eventually derived. The Goidels were driven northwards 
into Ireland and Scotland. The Brythons peopled Wales and 
all the western and southern parts of England. Their religion 
differed little from that of their neighbours the Gauls on the 
other side of the channel. They reverenced the same deities 
under different titles, as Mahon (called Belinus in Gaul, and 
Apollo at Rome), whose worship was connected with solar 
rites, as is testified by the remains of statues found at Bath. 
So again, at Bath we find an inscription to a Goddess called 
Sul — equivalent to the Minerva of the Romans, who was 
supposed to preside over all health-giving waters and generally 
to be the genius of health and fertility. The Romans at 
Bath worshipped her under the title of Sul-Minerva, and an 
inscription was found upon an altar in that city, with the fol- 
lowing votive words : "Dedicated to the Goddess Sul for the 
health and safety of Aufidius Maximus, a Centurion of the 
6th legion, by his f reed-man, Marcus Aufidius Lemnus." The 
6th legion was quartered at York. Her temple at Bath is 
described by the historian Solinus, who says that she ruled 
there over the boiling springs, and that at her altar there 
flamed a perpetual fire, which never whitened into ashes, but 
hardened into a stony mass. This is supposed to have been 
a very early allusion to coal, which would burn with somewhat 
the same result. The names of a host of minor deities appear 
in inscriptions, or are vaguely preserved in the country 
legends. Every village was protected by the mothers or 
guardian spirits, who appear in mediaeval legends as the 
White Ladies, the three fairies, the weird sisters, and wild 
women of the woods. Their worship was common^to the 
Celts and Germans, and numerous inscriptions and images 
were set up in their honour by the soldiers of the Roman 
legions in Britain. There is a Whiteladies Road in Bristol, 
and is it not possible this may be a survival ? 



The Celts again worshipped a god called Nodens, from 
whom the legendary family of Nud was supposed to be 
descended. The figured pavements and inscriptions dis- 
covered on the site of a Roman villa at Lydney in Gloucester- 
shire disclosed this worship. This god Nodens answered to 
the Neptune of the Romans, and is depicted as borne by sea- 
horses, and surrounded by a laughing company of Tritons. 
This tesselated pavement at Lydney depicts to us another 
interesting scene of early life. There are figures which 
show the British fishermen paddling about the Severn mouth 
in little canoes called coracles, and one figure enveloped in a 
hooded mantle, is drawn in the act of catching a large salmon, 
which he is pulling into the leather canoe. These canoes 
were called curraghs, and their occupants were so bold as even 
to cross to Ireland in them. They were covered with bull's 
hide stretched over basket work of willows or hazels, plaited 
in and out, while the keel and principal timbers were 
made of thin planking, firmly nailed together. It is 
very interesting to think that in such frail canoes the 
Irish missionaries, St. Patrick perhaps amongst them, sailed 
over to Somersetshire, and were carried up on the rush 
of the wave to the Isle of Avalon and the monastery 
of Glastonbury, from whence they were sped on their 
way to Rome. 

Lir was another ocean god, who was worshipped both in 
Ireland and Britain. His name was taken by a whole tribe, 
who called themselves the children of Lir. This was the 
origin of the name familiarized to us in Shakespeare as King 
Lear. He appears in the beautiful Irish romance on the 
" Fate of the Children of Lir " as a king of the divine race, 
whose children were turned into swans by the enchantment of 
a cruel stepmother, which sad fate so grieved the men of 
Erin that they made a law and proclaimed it throughout the 
land, that no one should kill a swan in Erin from that time 
forth. Rivers also, as the Dee and Ribble, were worshipped 
under the titles of Deve and Belisama, the goddess of arts and 
crafts, and generally divine honours were paid to the ele- 


mental powers of nature, and natural objects easily trans- 
formed into deities. 

To these childlike people also the brimming rivers were 
agents bringing food and abundance of riches in their in- 
visible argosies. The weird rocks and lone grottoes in the 
forests were the haunts of nymphs and fays. The springs 
and wells were also sacred to some presiding genius, whose 
good offices were secured by the payment of a fee to her 
commissioned priestess, and fortunes were told and wishes 
registered with an offering of bread or a piece of linen tied on 
bushes close by, as a gift to the spirit of the waters. These 
priestesses professed to read off omens by the bubbling or 
sparkling of the water, phenomena which can be easily 
effected by natural means, such as throwing in a piece of 
metal or casting a piece of bread on the surface. Then to the 
visionary imagination of these early people gilded palaces 
appeared in the mirage and after-glow of sunset, and on the 
sea horizon lay the earthly paradise which was set by different 
tribes here in Somerset, reputed to be the Land of Summer, 
there in the Isle of Man and elsewhere in the fabulous coun- 
tries off the Irish coast. This was the religion of our Celtic 
ancestors. Its chief features were a bright mythology, and 
the worship of nature in all its forms, phases and phenomena. 
In every sparkling fountain, in every rapid stream, in every 
deep and silent well, upon the lone mountain top, in the 
depths of the dark grove with its gnarled oaks, and in the 
elemental powers of earth and fire a spirit lived and moved 
and had its being. Wordsworth has illustrated and ^almost 
sanctioned this primitive belief when he writes : — 

" And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with a joy 
Of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean, and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man 
A motion and a spirit that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought." 

But after all, the knowledge we possess of the early Celtic 


religion is vague and indefinite. More is told us of their 
priesthood and religious orders. Caesar says there are only 
two classes which are held in consideration and honour, the 
Knights and the Druids. 

The latter are concerned with all things divine, manage 
the public and private sacrifices, and interpret sacred omens 
and religious scruples. They give the judgment in all disputes, 
both private and public. They name the compensation and 
assess the penalties. All the Druids are under one Arch- 
Priest who has the highest authority among them. The 
system, he says, was invented in Britain, and from thence 
brought over to Gaul, and even still those who wish to get 
the deepest possible knowledge of the Druidical training, go 
to Britain to seek it. 

The Druids were free of military duties, and paid no 
taxes. None of their lore was permitted to be put down in 
writing, everything had to be committed to memory. 

The chief doctrine of the Druids was that the soul does 
not perish, but at death passes from one body to another. 

They thought that the Divine Power could not be con- 
ciliated unless a human life was paid for a life. They con- 
sidered thieves and highwaymen and criminals the sacrificial 
victims most pleasing to their gods, but that when the supply 
of such victims failed, innocent persons would be acceptable 

From other authorities we learn that the Druids were 
experts in magic and conjuring, were sorcerers and rain doctors, 
that they divined by the observation of various omens, even 
by that of sneezing, by the mode of falling, and the convulsive 
movement of their sacrificial victims, the flight of birds, the 
croaking of ravens, and chirping of tame wrens. The Chief 
Druid of Tara is shown to us as a leaping juggler, with ear- 
clasps of gold, and a speckled cloak, " he tosses swords and 
balls in the air, and like the buzzing of bees on a beautiful day 
is the motion of each passing the other." They pretended to 
have a knowledge of astronomy and of the laws of the uni- 
verse, but the Romans despised their learning, and scoffed at 


their doctrines. " One would have laughed," said a Roman> 
11 at these long- trousered philosophers if we had not found 
their doctrine under the cloak of Pythagoras." Further, we 
learn that they were great adepts at ceremonial functions and 
ritualistic rites, and the cutting of the sacred mistletoe by the 
Arch Druid must have been an impressive scene. The plant, 
when growing upon the oak, was supposed to be a panacea for 
all diseases. It cured sterility in cattle, healed sores, and was 
an antidote in cases of poisoning. Its rare appearance on the 
sacred oak betokened the presence of a god. " The service 
which was held on a holiday at the beginning of the month, 
was conducted by a Druid clothed in white, with a chaplet of 
oak leaves upon his head, who cut the plant with a golden 
sickle and caught it in a long, white cloak. As it fell, the 
sacrifices began and the company burst out into prayer. A 
banquet followed, and at last the mistletoe was carried home 
in a waggon drawn by two snow-white bulls, which had never 
felt the yoke." Other writers, such as Strabo, describe the 
Druids as walking in scarlet and gold brocade, and wearing 
golden collars and bracelets, using a strange jargon, which 
passed for the language of the gods, and exercising a fascinat- 
ing influence over kings and people, which enabled them to 
gain a political supremacy and to carry such weight that their 
judgment was taken as the very voices of the gods. 

The Romans, of course, were not cajoled by their devices, 
and probably would have ignored their superstitious rites 
had they not been stained with so much bloodshed. But 
this stigmatised their whole system as gross and immoral. 
The recklessness of their sacrificial blood offerings was fearful, 
and ghastly hecatombs of human beings were offered yearly 
to avert misfortune and call down blessings upon the nation. 
Huge crates of wicker work, weaved into human shapes, were 
stuffed with victims, and men, cattle, and wild beasts were 
burnt in a general holocaust. 

These were called Beltain fires. They remind us of the 
cruel offerings made to Molock by the Priests of Baal amongst 
the Canaanites of old. The May and Midsummer fires for a 


blessing upon the crops, the killing of a cock upon the site 
of a new building, and other rites of later days were a sur- 
vival in a more innocent shape of these fearful rites of human 
sacrifice. The cult was transplanted to Ireland and Scotland, 
where it lingered on for centuries, and was gradually merged 
into sorcery and witchcraft. 

The historian Tacitus gives us a graphic account of the 
meeting between the Druids and the Roman army under 
Suetonius, at Mona in the Isle of Anglesea. Along the shore 
was seen a dense line of armed warriors, while women were 
rushing about between the ranks garbed like the furies in 
black gowns, their hair flowing loose, and torches in their 
hands. The Druid priests were 'visible in the rear offering 
sacrifices to their gods, raising their hands to heaven and calling 
down dire imprecations upon the head of the invader. The 
soldiery at first sight, it seems, were somewhat overawed by 
the weird sight, but soon recovering their nerve, fell upon 
them in serried ranks, broke their line, and drove them back 
upon the fires of their own sacrifices. Then followed a 
general massacre, and the sacred groves were cut down, and 
the altars, where human sacrifices were wont to be offered, 
were destroyed. 

Besides Druidism there was another strange and curious 
form of worship practised by the Celtic race. It was common 
to all branches of the Aryan family, and is found among the 
Red Indians in North America and the Australian blacks. 
This was totemism, a kind of animal, or even plant worship, 
proceeding from the belief that each family is literally de- 
scended from a particular plant or animal whose name it 
bears, and which is held so sacred that it is taboo to pluck the 
plant or kill the animal. In illustration of this we find that 
certain animals, as the hare, the goose, and stranger, indeed, 
the domestic fowl, were forbidden to be used as food. 

They could only be kept and reared for amusement. In 
Ireland, we are told by Mr. Elton, that the local saints were 
believed to guard the lives of certain kinds of animals. St. 
Colman's teal could neither be killed nor injured. St. Brendau 


provided an asylum for stags, wild boars, and hares. St. 
Beanus protected his cranes and the grouse which bred upon 
the mountains of Ulster. This also accounts for the adoption 
of animals as the emblem and crest of many of the tribes of 
these Celtic people. The tribe of the Duinn of Ireland, who 
claimed St. Bridget as their kinswoman, wore for their crest 
the figure of a lizard, which appeared at the foot of the oak 
tree above her shrine. This St. Bridget, by the way, is not 
to be confounded with the Christian St. Bridget. A tribal 
name, said to signify the calves, is heard of in the country 
round Belfast. The tradition also was that the men of 
Ossory were descendants of the wolf, and the belief was 
current in the days of Fynes Moryson, the Irish traveller, 
that in Upper Ossory and Ormond men were yearly turned 
into wolves ; anyhow, the wolf was taken as the badge of the 
men of Ossory. In Scotland we hear of a clan Chattau, or the 
wild cats. The followers of Cian, the dog, were called in Wales 
the dogs of war, and the chieftain's house was described as the 
" castle of the white dogs." The clan McLeod, in Scotland, 
is thought to have a close connection with the horse, as it was 
probably the case also with the Horsings amongst the Saxons ; 
while Orme's head, Ormskirk, and our family name of Or me, 
and Oram, are all traces of the worship of the great worm, or 
sea-serpent, which led the way as it graced the prow of every 
Scandinavian warship. 

This cult of totemism was apparently a more prominent 
part of Saxon worship than of Celtic. Here we find many 
more traces of it. The genealogies of the kings include such 
names as the mare, the whale, the serpent, the ash, as well 
as the horse. 

The Saxons also reverenced together with the Celts the 
powers of nature, and felt the presence of deity in its every 
phase and permanent phenomenon. 

But, again, unlike their Celtic predecessors, they also 
worshipped gods who stood for grand and abstract ideas. 
Their gods were not limited to certain localities, but occupied 
the whole wide world. They were equally present in Britain, 


when they settled there, as in the land of their forefathers. 
They were more than the tribal deities of the Celtic races, for 
they were worshipped under differing names and titles over all 
the Roman Empire. Even Anglo-Saxon deities had their 
representatives in the mythology of Greece and Rome. 

Odin or Woden answered to Mars and Mercury amongst 
the Romans. He was the furious god who inspired men with 
warlike fury among the northern nations, and to show how 
prevalent his worship was, the form of profession which pre- 
ceded Christian baptism was, " I forsake the Devil and 
Woden." Woodnes or Madness in early English was thus 
derived. In his honour our Wednesday was named. Places 
like Wanborough, Wonston, Wanstrow, Wansford, Wansdyke, 
and Woodborough point to his worship. 

Thunor was another deity, the same as Zeus or Jupiter. 
Thursday is Thunor's day, the thunderbolt his weapon. 
Thundersfield, Thursley, Thurlow, commemorate his name. 

Tiw, answering to Ares or Mars (God of War) had his day 
on Tuesday (the day of Mars). 

Fren or Venus gives the title to Friday, and Satere or 
Saturn to our Saturday. 

Wig (War), Sige (Victory), Hel, Wyrd, or Fal (mistress 
of the dark abode of the guilty), were other personified ab- 
stractions they worshipped. 

The popular creed might not have soared to these 
higher ideas of the great gods of Greece and Rome, but they 
were, nevertheless, part of the national religion which our 
ancestors brought with them, and which their kings and chiefs 
believed in. 

The deity, Tiw, is still invoked unconsciously by many a 
hot-tempered Britisher at the present day. " Deuce take 
it" is really "Tiw take it." The very word "deuce" is a 
latinised form of " Tiw." 

Augustine, in his " De Civitate Dei " (Book VI, Cha. 23), 
has these words : — " Quosdam daemones quos dusios Galli 
nuncupant," which Ludovicus Vives, in his translation, 
renders, " Whom the Frenchmen call Dusies." 


This allusion may be capped by others. 

The name of " old Scratch," used by Northerners, is a 
modern version of the old Scandinavian demon Skrattle, who 
was supposed to mock travellers who were lost upon the 
waste with his wild horse-laugh. And the warning, " Take 
care old Nick does not take you," is a survival of the super- 
stition about the dangerous water-demon, Nicor, who de- 
manded every year a victim, and carried off children who 
stayed too near his abode beneath the water. 

But the chief feature of the Saxon religion was their hero 
or ancestor worship upon the shrine of the domestic hearth. 

They were too independent to brook a Father-superior 
or a priestly order. Every father was priest in his own 
house, and presided over the worship of the spirits of his 
deceased ancestors. These ancestral spirits were thought to 
haunt the precincts of the old family hearth when not resting 
in the quiet tomb. 

This family religion, over which the father is priest, is the 
earliest form of all, and the most sacred. Abraham was the 
priest in his own house, as every father should be. 

This was the great merit of the Saxon religion, that it 
sanctioned and secured the sanctity of home life and home 
relationship. It made every house a sanctuary and shrine, 
into which no stranger could enter, and no foreign rights 
intrude. Lawlessness and licence might be rampant outside 
the home, but within its precincts the fear of offending local 
spirits would keep intruders out, and put those within upon 
their honour to preserve the high traditions of their home, 
and the germs of law and morality would be sown which 
gradually developed into a systematic code of moral ethics. 

This domestic religion had a well-authenticated history 
in folk-lore. " Many traces," says Prof. Max Muller, " remain 
to show that the hearth was the first altar, the father the first 
priest, his wife and children and slaves the first congregation 
gathered round the sacred fire long before churches and 
temples were built or thought of." 

The fire upon the hearth of every homestead was so 


sacred that, if possible, it was never allowed to go out. If it 
did, a log must be fetched from another hearth to rekindle it. 
The self-extinction of the yule-log at Christmas was supposed 
to bode disaster ; the New Year's fire had to be lit from the 
old year's brand. 

As with the family hearth, so with the public hearth fire. 
It was never allowed to go out. If it did, it must be re-lit by 
a burning glass. On this hearth, where in his lifetime he had 
himself sacrificed so often, the departed house-father received 
at the hands of his successors his share of every meal, and 
heard in his own honour, from the lips of his own, those 
familiar words of prayer and praise that were the heirloom of 
his race. 

Every meal was in effect a sacrifice. The celebrant was 
the eldest son. A daughter could not continue the sacred 
household rites. If there happened to be no son, the house- 
father adopted one. 

Abraham of old was the house-father of his family. 
Isaac succeeded him in the same sacred office. Esau's sin in 
selling his birthright consisted in the fact that with it he sold 
his priestly office as the house-father. 

Again, the demolition of the homestead, with its chimney- 
stacks and hearth-stone, was supposed to entail the loss of 
family rights. 

The fact that house-breaking in earliest times was visited 
by death, shows that the violation of the family hearth was 
considered to be deserving of the severest punishment. We 
get glimpses of the same living belief in the hearth spirit in 
Ireland. Among the Irish the expression, " the breaking of 
cinders," means to charge and confirm guilt on a man at his 
own hearth, so that his fire, which represents his honour, is 
broken into pieces. The trampling of a man's cinders was 
one of the greatest insults which could be offered him, as it 
conveyed the idea of guilt, and not only in the individual 
himself, but also in his family and household." This is largely 
quoted from G. L. Gomme in " Folk-lore Relics." 

When the Russian peasant leaves his home, the fire from 


the old stove is raked out into a jar, and is brought into the 
new house, where its arrival is greeted with the significant 
salutation, " Welcome, grandfather." 

All these illustrations from folk-lore and modern sur- 
vivals point one way. They show that the earliest and ele- 
mentary form of religion among our Pagan Saxon forefathers 
was the worship of ancestral spirits who were supposed to 
haunt the abode they had once inhabited, and to be present 
on the hearth and in the home. The tomb held their bodies, 
but their spirits dwelt hard by the old familiar hearth. 

No wonder that the hearth and home has by the Anglo- 
Saxon ever been deemed the sweetest and most sacred spot 
on earth, and that the motto of our Home Defenders is " Pro 
Arts et Focis." 

Pass we on now to the brighter and more enlightened 
days, when Christian teachers propagated the true religion in 
the British Isles. St. Augustine was certainly not the first 
of these, nor was the earlier Church extinct when he was sent 
by Pope Gregory to evangelise the fair-haired Angles. We 
must dismiss, I fear, from our minds, however, as unauthentic, 
the statements respecting apostles or apostolic men preaching 
in Britain in the first century. Whether there were Christian 
converts so early as that date is somewhat apocryphal also, 
though Tacitus says that Pomponia Graecina, the wife of 
Aulus Plautius, Claudius' Lieutenant in Britain, was a Chris- 
tian ; and we hear of another lady, Claudia Rufina, a friend of 
hers, who is said to have built the first Christian Church in 
Rome, and whom the poet Martial celebrates for her refine- 
ment and learning. 

The evidence for British Christianity in the second 
century, including the letter of Pope Eleutherius and the well- 
known story of the King Lucius, the supposed founder of the 
wattled shrine, from which sprang the great Cathedral of 
Winchester, is also pronounced by Haddon and Stubbs to be 
unhistorical, though the progress made by Christianity in the 
second century, which Tertullian, Origen, Bede, and Gildas 
bear testimony to, is confirmed by the multitude of Christian 


martyrs who suffered in the cruel persecutions of Diocletian 
and Maximilian. 

It is only after the year 386 that we find distinct records 
of an Established Church in Christian Britain, " holding the 
Catholick faith and keeping up an intercourse with Rome and 

But the old Celtic Christian Church had already had a 
vigorous life before Augustine came from Rome, so much so 
that at the Council of Constance in 1419, precedence was 
actually accorded to our Bishops as representing the Senior 
Church of Christendom. 

In witness thereof also we may summon up the glorious 
memories of our great Somerset shrine of Glastonbury, once 
as " Inis Vitrin," with its Ecclesia Vetusta, its sailor saints, and 
its abundance of eastern relics, so justly renowned and 
reverenced as the cradle of Celtic Christianity. Nor does 
Glastonbury stand alone, for the hagiology of West and North 
Somerset tells the same tale, with its numerous churches and 
chapels, still dedicated to Celtic Saints, as St. Culbone, St. 
Congar, St. Carantoc, St. Benignus, St. David, St. Julian, St. 
Catherine, and St. Vigor. 

But in due time, to re-organise this shattered Christian 
Church, came Augustine, and succeeded in establishing 
Roman ascendency in England, with its hierarchical order and 
ritual observances. Monasteries and abbeys and conventual 
churches, as Malmesbury, Sherborne, Beaulieu, were founded 
or restored by the energy of such men as Beda, Chad, 
Maidulph, Adhelm, and, later, Dunstan, whose example of 
real piety and learning won the hearts of the brave Saxons. 

Slaves were freed under the benignant influence of 
Christianity, and the social status of the conquered race was 
recognised and raised. 

A wise compromise was come to with those who still 
cherished the old Pagan rites and ceremonies. They were, not 
altogether abolished but converted into a Christian use. Pope 
Gregory, in a letter to the Abbot Mellitus, advised that as the 
heathen had been accustomed to sacrifice many oxen to devils,. 


some solemnity must be exchanged for them on this account, 
and that on the day of the dedication of the new churches or 
the nativities of the holy martyrs whose relics are there 
deposited, they may build themselves huts of the boughs of 
trees, in imitation of the heathen sacred groves, about the 
churches' precincts, and kill cattle in the praise of God in their 
feasting ; it being impossible to efface everything at once 
from their obdurate minds, and because he who wishes to rise 
to the highest place, rises by degrees or steps and not by 

Even the old temples might be used for Christian worship 
after the idols in them had been destroyed, and they had been 
sprinkled all over with Holy Water. 

This wise advice was generally adopted, and this was the 
origin of those feasts and fasts which took place in later days 
in the churchyards, and even in the churches, till their reli- 
gious intention was lost sight of, and they became desecrated 
and profaned. To show how long such customs last, we can 
quote the fact that the villeins of Aucklandshire 500 years 
later, had, as one of their bondage duties, to see that they put 
up eighteen booths in the bailiwick of Radulphus Callidies at 
the fairs of St. Cuthbert in honour of their patron saint, as 
well as building a great aula or summer-house for the bishop 
in the forest when he came to hunt there, sixty feet long and 
sixteen feet wide, with a buttery, steward's room, office and 
chapel, forty feet long and sixteen wide. 

This is the period at which parishes first began to be 
established all over the land. They were the units of eccle- 
siastical governments, as the Manors were of secular. But at 
first all was very crude and unconventional, and more often 
than not the services were conducted in the open air, the only 
symbol of the faith being the cross borne by the priest from 
place to place. " A cross," says Montalembert, " raised in 
the middle of a field was enough to satisfy the devotion of the 
thanes, the ploughman, and shepherd. They gathered round 
it for public and daily prayer. Here also, of course, the 
preaching of the gospel took place long before any other 


pulpit but a rough stone was available to raise the preacher 
above the crowd of earnest and attentive hearers." 

Some of the village crosses for which our county is famous 
were originally preaching crosses, and like the one at Hor- 
sington, had a sculptured image of a skull upon it to furnish 
a fitting symbol and text for the preaching friar or priest. 
Luckington Cross, of which there is no trace, may have 
been a relic of this ancient custom of the early pioneers of 
Christianity in this neighbourhood. Adhelm, Bishop of 
Sherborne, once a monk of Malmesbury, was possibly the 
bearer of the cross set up temporarily then, and permanently 
in after times. 

St. Adhelm's history is of peculiar interest to us, as he is 
said to have founded monasteries at Frome and Bradford, and 
to have lived much in this neighbourhood. He was a great 
scholar of his age, and wrote a great deal of religious and 
classical verse. He died upon one of his journeys through his 
diocese at Doulting, and was carried by slow stages to Malmes- 
bury to be buried. The procession is said to have stopped at 
several places on the route, and at each crosses were erected. 
Bishop Browne, of Bristol, has tried to locate these places, 
which must have been some seven miles apart, as the whole 
distance travelled is said to have been about fifty miles. It is 
most likely that the first halting place would have been at 

The change wrought in England by the conversion of the 
Pagan Saxons was great and beneficial. It produced far- 
reaching effects. The monks were at the root of it, and their 
influence ran through it all. 

It was a monk, Augustine, who inaugurated it, and it 
was mainly~by means of the monastic bodies that Christianity 
spread all over the land. Their learning gave them a leading 
voice in T the council of kings and the synods of the church. 
Their skill and ^enterprise in reclaiming forest and fen gave 
them a right to be the possessors of real estate and lords of 
abbeys and monasteries. Their benign influence in freeing 
the serfs from bondage and mitigating the hardship of poverty, 


endeared them to the hearts of the people, and the character 
which they acquired for devotion and self-sacrifice won their 
reverence and their respect. 

The monastery was the one institution where the arts of 
peace could be carried on in those days of constant turmoil, 
and where those who were wearied with a life of bloodshed 
could retire to a life of penitence and prayer. 

Many were the great and noble converts even among 
kings and princes who were induced to leave their pursuits of 
ambition and greed, to take refuge as recluses within the 
monastery walls. 

"Secure in the peace conferred upon them by a religious 
sanction, the monks became the pioneers of literature, archi- 
tecture, and all artistic work." 

Benedict Biscop, originally of Cannes, the Venerable 
Bede, England's first ecclesiastical historian and poet, Cuth- 
bert, and Gildas the chronicler, William of Malmesbury, and 
Adhelm, first of Malmesbury, then of Sherborne — such men 
as these kept alive the spirit of the Faith, and culture of litera- 
ture, and held England in direct communication with the 
central civilising agencies of Rome and the south. 

In the monasteries alone was Latin taught and spoken. 
There alone books were written, copied and read; at the abbey 
bells were cast, glass manufactured, buildings designed, manu- 
scripts and charters written and illuminated, and painting on 
glass and parchment, such as it was, elaborated. It was the 
monks who first designed and built of stone churches which 
hitherto had been of wood. 

The metropolitan church of Augustine was of stone, and 
was only destroyed after the Norman conquest. At Dover, 
the work of Eadbald still remains. 

Wilfrith built his church at Ripon of polished stone 
adorned with columns of various kinds. The crypt of this 
old Saxon church, says Freeman, still remains. Baeda's 
Saxon choir is still left to us repaired by Ealwine. Eadwine 
erected a stone church at York. 

Adhelm reared Malmesbury and Sherborne minsters, 


parts of which gave way only to the great works of Roger in 
the 12th century, and which were not despised even by the 
Norman historian. At Sherborne Abbey an arch still remains 
as a relic of its earliest Saxon builder and architect. 

The tiny chapel of St. Laurence, at Bradford-on-Avon, 
still stands, and forms the best example of primitive Roman- 
esque architecture, such as Honorius or Stilicho erected on the 
gates of Rome in the year 408. 

Many other fragments of old Saxon churches of stone still 
remain to attest the skill of the builders and their religious 
zeal and self-sacrifice. 

Taking all this into account, we are bound to pay all 
honour to these pioneers of Christianity, and to remember 
the benefit which they conferred upon the people in the early 
stages of their existence. They were the salt of the earth, and 
the leaven, which in God's good time was to leaven the 
whole lump. 

When in long after years they were despoiled and dis- 
established, these great institutions, as Canon Church, of 
Wells, says, had been undermined by the hands of their own 
children, and fell by their own fault to be the prey of the 

Chapter XIV. 


THE Norman conquest did not break the connection 
established in Saxon days between the Church and 
the State. 

Kings still remained its nursing fathers and queens its 
nursing mothers. 

Norman bishops, like Lanfranc and Anselm, superseded 
Saxon ; and Normans were given grants of ancient Saxon 
abbeys and monasteries. The Abbot of Glastonbury was 
dispossessed, for instance, of the Manor of Stratton, which 
was granted instead to William the Conqueror's special friend, 
the Bishop of Coutances. 

But the faith and worship of the Church remained intact, 
the architecture of the churches only was changed. The 
Norman structure, with its plain, massive, round arch and dog- 
tooth mouldings, superseded what was left of the Saxon 
romanesque, and was larger and more pretentious. 

The earliest church at Holcombe was of Norman work- 
manship, and was probably a domestic oratory attached to 
the Manor, for it was called a Capella in the earliest notice, 
and its priest, Capellanus. This was probably enlarged and 
converted into the present perpendicular style of building 
when the Manor had fallen into the hands of the Abbey 
of Keynsham. The doorway has a Norman arch, which 
is doubtless a relic of the earlier building, erected 300 years 
previously. (Plate XV.) The capital of one of its pillars, which 
has evidently been cut down to suit its present situation, has 
an inscription upon it which no one has been able to decipher 
hitherto. It is upside down, and has been shortened. It 
consists of four lines, the first line beginning with a cross. 
There are six characters on the top line and a piece of another. 

321 Y 


Seven are found on the second row, the third has four, and 
three torn away, and the lowest row rive and a cross. 
(Plate XVI.) The inscription is said to be older than the 
Norman carving of the capital, and must therefore have been 
cut in Saxon times. Father Home, of Downside, suggests that 
this stone might have been part of a Frithstol, or chair of peace, 
for " sanctuary men " to fly to in Saxon days ; but as far as 
the letters are concerned, they give no clue. 

The appointment of the first Rector of Holcombe by the 
Abbot of Keynsham was in 1344. 

The expense of keeping up our churches and their 
services in those days must have been great. The cere- 
monies and ritual were so elaborate, and required so much 
ecclesiastical furniture that the churchwardens of even a 
small church like Holcombe must have been sorely put to to 
find the requisite funds. The altars, lights, incense, vest- 
ments, books, and ornaments of all kinds had to be provided. 
These things could not have been obtained and kept up with- 
out large contributions from the congregation, and apparently, 
according to the late Bishop Hobhouse, even the humblest 
village churches, as at Morebath, were required to provide 
their quota. 

This being so, it is all the more interesting to ascertain 
where the funds came from, and how they were collected. 

The Parochial Exchequer was replenished in various 
ways. There was the occasional and exceptional levy for 
extraordinary needs, called the setts or sess, short for assess- 
ments. This was a parochial rate, and was universally em- 
ployed in the form of church rate in modern times. Then often 
boys, carrying boxes or a holy picture or a relic, were sent round 
to excite the devotion and generosity of the people. Sometimes 
a collection box was placed in the church, or regular Sunday 
collections made at the services. Much later on the letting of 
pews or seats in the church became a custom. There was a 
fee for burial in the church or churchyard apart from the fee 
to the clergy, and the loan of the processional cross to precede 
the corpse brought in a money payment, and the same was 



obtained for the use of the parish tapers and candlesticks at 
funerals. Money, too, was left, of course, by will, and many 
gifts in kind, which were sold unless otherwise specified, to 
the balance of the church stock. These gifts in kind were 
generally largely contributed by the various church guilds. 
Then there were various grants of lands, made by pious 
owners for the maintenance of chapels and chauntries, 
and ths keeping up of lights in the churches before the 
High Altar, and altars of the Blessed Virgin and the patron 

The writer has two deeds relating to licences/given by 
Richard II and Henry VIII for alienating land for the estab- 
lishing of the chapels of St. Catherine and St. Nicholas in 
Frome church (Plate XVII) ; and another which contains a 
lease by Queen Elizabeth for twenty-one years, of lands which 
had previously belonged to the chapel of the Virgin Mary in 
Frome parish church. (Plate XVIII.) The chapel of St. 
Nicholas was founded by John Cable, and his rebus, a ship's 
cable, appears in the glass window of the chapel. It is 
interesting to note that the earliest grant of the three, that to 
the Lady Chapel in the time of Edward III was contributed to 
by a John Cable, a namesake of whom, in Henry VIII's time, 
gave, with another, the endowment for the chapel of St. 
Nicholas. (Plate XVII, a.) The name of Cable, together 
with that of Braunch, is found in the annals of Kilmersdon. 

With respect to the chapel of St. Catherine the charter of 
the 4th year of Richard II recites that the religious house of 
St. Catherine existed in the time of Edward III, when Law- 
rence Walsh was warden and chaplain, and that the lands 
were then purchased for the endowment of the chantry from 
Stephen Wynslade, Lord of the Manor, but were afterwards 
escheated by William Cheyne, escheator to Edward III, for 
being so appropriated without the king's licence. 

The charter then recites that at the petition of Richard 
Gridenham, their chaplain, the forfeiture was remitted. 

The chapel, or chauntry, itself was not connected with the 
parish church, but with a nunnery situated on St. Catherine's 




hill, some remains of which, it is said, still exist at Sheppard 
Barton, and sufficiently mark the site. A secret passage is 
said to have led to this nunnery from a house near the George 
Inn, occupied by Mr. Thomas Bunn. 

St. Catherine was probably one of the patron saints of the 
town ; hence the fair held on St. Catherine's day, November 
25th, which was no doubt one of the ancient wakes of the 

The last incumbent of this chauntry was John Fry, who, 
at its dissolution, was sent away with a pension of £5. 

Chapels on the tops of hills were often dedicated to St. 
Catherine of Alexandria on account of the legend which tells 
us that St. Catherine's body was buried by angels on Mount 
Sinai. There were such chapels at Milton, Abbotsbury, and 
Holdsworth, in Dorset, and probably also at Leigh-on-Mendip. 

St. Catherine is the patron saint of spinsters, and in days 
gone by she was supposed to have the power of rinding a 
husband for those who sought her aid. This idea is embodied 
in this doggerel couplet : — 

" St. Catherine, St. Catherine, O lend me thine aid, 
And grant that I never may die an old maid." 

But we can adduce an illustration or two of the similar 
grants of lands to sacred purposes from the record of our 
parish, and from the map of its field names. 

From the cartulary of Buckland Priory, a foundation of 
the knights hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, near Taunton, 
we find that two ladies of this parish left land to the support 
of the brethren. These ladies were Denise de Holcumbe and 
Margery de Holecomb. They were sisters, and " In their 
proper widowhood," as the deed expresses it, they gave 
their lands for the health of their souls, and that of their 
ancestors. The first, who is Fille Hervei de Holcumb, gave 
one half virgate of land, that is, about 15 acres, which Robert 
Bubbe and Hubert Taile held with all their issue, "and all that 
hill concerning which there was controversy between Pain de 
Walton and Humphrey de Holecumba, which the said Pain 
rendered to her in hereditary right." 


The witnesses were 

Johanne de Palton, 
Andrew de Stratton, 
Hugone de Walton, 
Roberto Le Frauncys, 
Helia de Meles, 
Johanne de Waleys.* 

Margery, her sister, leaves one ferling (10 acres), which 
Richeman de Holecumbe held in the vill of Holecumbe. The 
witnesses, as before, with another, Willelmo de Seton. 

This second charter is confirmed by William, son of 
Margery de Holecomb, with the same witnesses, including 
another, Bartholomew de Eminberge. 

In another grant, Margery, one of these ladies, daughter 
of Hervei de Holecumbe, gives all the land in pure and 
perpetual alms to the brethren of the hospital of Jerusalem 
serving God at Buckland, which Richard de la Bergh 
held with the messuage and three parts of the mill at Edde- 
ford, with all its appurtenances, and all crofts in front taken 
from her Lordship on the west side and on the east side of 
La Holecumba, and also three parts of a certain " grove," 
called Trindle, with the pasture within and without adjacent 
to the said parts. 

The witnesses include two new names, Jordano La 
Warre and Willelmo Fossard. 

The history of Buckland Minchin is very interesting,, 
there being something quite unique in the character of its 
institution, as it was composed of both laymen and sisters of a 
preceptory and nunnery, each with its separate church. This 
dual combination seems, as was only natural, to have been an 
unsatisfactory arrangement, leading to frequent quarrels 
between the prior and sisters. The order was that of the 
Knights Hospitallers, which was founded in the year 1092 
in the holy city, for the defence and support of Christian 
pilgrims. Various names came to be successively assigned 

* Vide Somt. Record Soc, Vol. 25, p. 108. 


to the order, as Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, Knights of 
Rhodes, and Knights of Malta, according to their connection 
with these several places in successive ages. 

The last designation, " Knights of Malta," was held all 
through the Middle Ages to the date of the French Revolution, 
when their possession of that island was taken from them, and 
the orders disbanded. 

The order was composed of eight divisions called lan- 
guages, to which France contributed three, Spain two, and 
Portugal, Italy, and Anglo-Bavaria one each. 

Each of these orders or languages had its own hostel or 
auberge, when once they were settled in Valetta, which was 
built by a Grand Master of that name, after the last great siege 
by the Turks in 1565. 

The brethren were habited in the dress of the Augustinian 
Order, and took the three vows of chastity, obedience, and 
charity, and the further oath to defend the Holy Sepulchre to 
the last drop of their blood, and to combat the Turks where- 
ever they should meet them, which clause of their vow they 
certainly always carried out to the letter. 

The Sisters wore a white linen covering, extending from 
the neck to the shoulders, and over the head a black mantle. 
The bodice and skirt were also of the same colour, with a 
white Maltese cross, with eight points on the breast and 
shoulder, and from the left shoulder a black velvet band fell 
to the ground, embroidered in colours with several of the usual 
emblems of the cross, as the hammer, the sword, the lock, and 
the seamless garment and with symbols of the direct vocation 
of the bearer, as a stretched-out hand to succour the distressed, 
and a basket to carry food and medicine to the sick. 
(Plate XIX.) The head of all the eight languages was the 
Grand Master, who was almost in the position of a Sovereign 
Prince, sending ambassadors to the principal courts of Europe 
and coining money, with his own name and effigy, besides 
doing other regal acts. 

Under the Grand Master were the various Priors of the 
eight divisions of the order, and under these the commanders 


or preceptors of each local community, a commandry or 

The order was first introduced into England in noo, 
when the first house for a Prior was built at Clerkenwell. The 
subordinate house or preceptory at Buckland was instituted 
by Henry II in 1180, when the body of the canons who had 
been first planted there by the founder of the establishment, 
William de Erleigh, had been expelled for outlawry conse- 
quent upon the manslaughter of the steward, a relation of the 
said founder. 

This grant to the order of the Hospitallers of St. John of 
Jerusalem contained an explicit condition, directing that a 
nunnery should be attached to and be dependent upon the 
preceptory, and that this stipulation should be fully and 
faithfully observed. Henceforth it was decreed that there 
should be no other place of residence for the sisters of the 
order except the nunnery of Mynchyn Buckland. 

Various grants were made from time to time to the 
brethren of the order, and confirmed by Henry II, as the 
property of the Church of Kimmersdon and Beckington in 
our immediate neighbourhood. Such also was the grant of 
Denyse and Margaret Hervey, of Holecombe, and it speaks 
no little for the reputation of this establishment that these 
ladies of Holcombe should have been interested in the welfare 
of the community. Probably our connection with Kilmers- 
don was the cause of it. 

Another grant of land in Holcombe (called Healtune or 
Holton, but evidently the same as our Holcombe from the 
names of neighbouring parishes associated with it) was given 
by the Saxon King ^thelred to the Priory of Bath. This is 
corroborated by the fact that the Prior of the black monks 
of Bath was cited to appear at the Manor Court of Kilmersdon 
in 1488 to render homage for lands in Aschwyke and Hol- 
combe as in duty bound. Besides this we find that Holcombe 
is called Holton in Kirby's Quests in 1286, in a list with the 
other tithings of the Hundred of Kilmersdon. 

One of the names mentioned in these grants is of peculiar 


interest. This name of Payne was familiar here from earliest 
times. Edmundus Filius Pagani, that is, Edmund Fitz 
Pagan, possessed at the date of the " Domesday Schedule " 
the Manor of Picota, our present Pitcott, in Stratton-on-the- 
Fosse, and Walton, in Kilmersdon. A Saxon named Jadulph 
had been ousted for him. 

His descendant was the Payn (Paganus) de Walton who 
left certain properties in the ville of Walton to the brethren 
of the house of St. John of Jerusalem at Buckland Mynchin, 
the deed of which bears the signatures of an Andrea de 
Stratton and a Gilberto de Holcombe. This Payne de Walton 
is styled "Sir Pain" in a subsequent deed, in which Michael de 
Walton confirms his father's grant to the brethren of the same 
Priory. Payne de Walton, the father's name, is mentioned 
again as granting and conferring to the same Priory all the 
land which Denise filia Hervei de Holecumb gave to this 
same religious use in the Manor of Holcombe in pure and 
perpetual alms. 

The name itself was originally, as we see, Paganus. The 
Paganus was the man dwelling in the country. These 
remained heathen long after those in the towns. Paganus 
thus became a synonym for heathen. 

The word " heathen " itself, says Archbishop Trench, 
acquired its present meaning from exactly the same fact, 
namely, that at the introduction of Christianity into Germany, 
the wild dwellers on the heath longest resisted the truth. One 
hardly expects, says Trench, an etymological origin in a 
poem like that of " Piers Ploughman's Vision," but this is to 
be found there, " Hethen is to mene after heath and untiled 
earth." — Trench, Study of Words, page 102. 

But besides these special grants which were for the 
support of extra parochial charities, there was much given by 
the people for the expenses of their own church and its ser- 
vices. Considering their poverty and the heavy calls which 
must have been made upon them to defray all the expense, 
one wonders at their liberality. 

But there was much to account for it. Their churches 


were much endeared to them by the various uses which they 
served. They were not merely places of worship, but homes 
of rest and halls of recreation, store-houses for goods and 
refuges for the fugitive. The Church also in those days was 
the meeting place and village hall. 

Here they were not only delighted by the singing and chant- 
ing and processions of the clergy and choristers, but also by the 
frequent mystery plays and performances of a sacred kind. 
At St. Peter's, Oxford, the churchwardens kept a set of 
players' garments, which they not only used for Christmas 
plays, but let on hire for behoof of their funds. These plays, 
says Bp. Hobhouse, " were, I suppose, held to be so far hand- 
maids to the church in her teaching as to justify their being 
represented in the naves of churches, the scenery, if any, 
being of the simplest." The church tower also was used for 
a store-house where farmers could store away their surplus 
grain or fleeces, paying a small fee to the parson. 

Even fairs, we are told, were held in the church nave, and, 
as in old St. Paul's, the stalls, erected in the first instance 
temporarily, were left up for use on the next occasion. The 
holding of the fairs inside the church naturally took place 
whenever the people were driven by bad weather to 
take refuge, and leave the churchyard in which generally 
the fair was held. There booths of canvas and green 
boughs were raised for the comfort and refreshment of 
the holiday makers who came to keep the dedication 
day of the parish church. Dealers in earthenware and 
cutlery, vendors of workmen's tools and implements of 
husbandry, packmen and pedlars, dames seeking purchasers 
for home-spun linen and dairy produce, fixed their stalls in 
lines upon the sacred ground. 

A motley crew of jesters, mountebanks, ballad singers, 
and morris dancers congregated in the " church-field " (a 
name still found on our terrier map and in current use) out- 
side, and added to the unseemly merriment and roistering. 

In churches possessed of famous shrines that attracted 
large numbers of visitors throughout the year, permanent 


fairs were encouraged by the clergy, who maintained that they 
were conducive to the convenience and well-being of the 
public. It is simply astonishing to find to what an extent 
this abuse of the practice of festivals was carried. The 
churches set apart for worship were turned to the commonest, 
not to say the most profane, use; and Strype,the historian of 
the Reformation, tells us that " they brought horses and 
mules into and through the churches, and shooting of hand- 
guns, making the same which were properly appointed to 
God's service and common prayer, like a stable or common 
inn, or rather a den and sink of all unchristliness." 

But from all this we see how the social as well as the 
religious observances of the people were provided for by the 

" The Lord's temple was the Christian's home, fashioned 
and ordained for the creature's comfort as well as the Creator's 

Things, sacred and profane, were strangely mixed, but 
the purpose and design of the promoters of this religious 
sanction was to exercise a wholesome influence on all human 
labours and recreations, and to rescue from an irreligious and 
vicious use things in themselves neither common nor unclean. 

The Church also had another great advantage in the eyes 
of the people. It was the common meeting point of all, rich 
and poor, high and low. Here all worshipped at one altar and 
partook of one common bread. In the eyes of the Church all 
were equal, and ecclesiastical law treated all alike. 

The laws of the parish were accustomed to override the 
laws of the Manor Courts. As Abbot Gasquet writes : "To 
Holy Mother Church all were the same, and within God's 
house the tenant, villein, and the serf stood side by side with 
the overlord and master." In fact at times, as when a feast 
fell upon a day when work had to be done by custom for the 
Lord of the Manor, the law of the Church forbade these servile 
works, and the master had perforce to acquiesce. This power 
of the Church, however, was not an unmixed boon to the 
people. The order which forbade the landlord to execute 


work on the holidays of the Church (and they were many), 
did not go so far as to compensate the labourer for his loss of 
wage, so that he was impoverished by the liberty he obtained. 
Frequent complaints were made about this, and the acts of 
Holy Mother Church censured in high quarters. 

The Church was also a sanctuary for those who had been 
seized by their enemies, or who fled away from the officers of 
the law. It was a survival of the Old Testament usage of 
cities of refuge for those who had spilt blood unwillingly, and 
without malice, and were in terror of the vengeance of the 
next of kin. Here, if a man laid hold of the horns of the 
altar, he was safe from his pursuers. So it was in many 
churches in England. Here the poor serf or villein, hunted to 
death by the hue and cry, flying from the clutches of the law 
or the weapons of his enemies, could lay hold of the Freed- 
stoll or chair of peace, and be safe for 40 days, though, after 
40 days, he had to forswear the realm, as it was called, and go 
forth bearing a cross in hand, barely clothed, keeping to the 
king's highway, straight on to the port of embarkation pre- 
scribed. He must do his utmost to get passage to foreign 
lands, and, failing this, within 40 days he must surrender 
himself again at the church as an escaped felon. Insolvent 
debtors were allowed to take sanctuary as well as grosser 
criminals. They evaded paying their debts by making a 
general donation of all their property. It was sacrilege to 
drag a culprit out of the sanctuary he had fled to ; it brought 
down excommunication upon kings themselves. Even 
traitors could not be taken out of sanctuary. Only a limited 
number of churches possessed this privilege. 

Hexham Abbey still shows one of these freedstolls or 
chairs of peace. Beverley had one also, with an inscription 
upon it. The churches of the Carmelites at Newcastle, of 
St. Martin's le Grand, St. Sepulchre and St. Bride's, in 
London, possessed them. Wells was a sanctuary, so was 
Westminster. The method of taking sanctuary was this : 
*' Flying from the avenger or from justice, the poor criminal 
knocked at the door of the Galilee, or porch; two watchers, 


who abode night and day in two chambers over the north porch, 
flung open the door, which had scarce closed upon the fugitive, 
ere the Galilee bell rung out to the town the event of his 
deliverance from the clutches of the law." Forthwith a black 
gown was assigned him with an emblem on it ; if at Durham 
Cathedral, of the yellow cross of St. Cuthbert ; if at Wells, of 
St. Andrew; if at Westminster, of the cross keys of St. Peter, 
with which he had to walk before the abbot in his procession 
round the church. 

At Walsingham, a famous shrine where pilgrimages were 
made, the gate of the knight was pointed out, which had 
stretched itself so far as to give protection to a man on horse- 
back, pursued by his enemies. 

Erasmus of Rotterdam, that inimitable critic of monkish 
legends, tells us of this miracle. He says, " Our guide related 
that once a knight seated on his horse, cap a pied, escaped by 
this door from the hand of his enemy, who was at the time 
closely pressing upon him. The wretched man, thinking himself 
lost, by a sudden inspiration commended his safety to the 
Virgin, who was so near, for he had determined to fly to her 
altar if the gate had been open. And lo ! the unheard of 
occurrence. On a sudden the man and horse were" together 
within the precincts of the church, and the pursuer fruitlessly 
storming without." 

But, after all, these sanctuaries were not so prejudicial to 
order and morality as they might seem. They did not leave 
any man scot free. They saved him only from immediate 
hot-handed vengeance, but they gave him no absolute im- 
munity from punishment, except from capital punishment and 
injury to limb, for he had to go into voluntary exile and as a 
pauper, because, by his abjuration, he had forfeited all he 
possessed. Later on, the sanctuary man, on his abjuration of 
the realm, had to submit to be branded with a hot iron to 
mark him as one who had only escaped by the skin of his 

Divers classes of criminals, as traitors, pirates and 
Egyptians (gypsies), were formally rendered incapable of sit 


immunities. The sanctuary man, being branded, was con- 
fined in one or other of the sanctuaries under a governor. He 
had to wear a prescribed badge, like the broad arrow of the 
convict, when he ventured forth. He must carry no weapons, 
only a knife for use at meals. On repeating his offence he lost 
his right altogether. So, gradually, the right of sanctuary for 
criminals passed away, and only the various liberties, within 
which the bailiff could not enter to distrain, remained for a 
time behind. But such a protection as this afforded by the 
churches must alone have been a great recommendation to 
them, and a reason for their being near to the hearts of the 
people. That it was so, there is no manner of doubt. 

Later on, the privileges of taking sanctuary were much 
curtailed ; all special places, save Wells, Westminster, and a 
few others, lost the privilege. 

Then there were religious associations called guilds in 
many parishes which had each their feast day, service and 
revelry, and brought the proceeds of their gathering to the 
wardens for the church stock. The late Bishop Hobhouse, 
in a volume of the Somerset Record Society, brought to 
light the doings of several country parishes in this county, and 
gives the ^off erings of these guilds at Croscombe, Yatton, 
Tintinhul, Morebath, and Pilton. 

We have also the same information concerning the guilds 
of St. Michael's parish in Bath in the S.A.S.P. The guilds 
which presented their offerings, or, as they were called, " Their 
Store," were as follows : — 

The Young men, or Younglers. 

The Maidens. 

The Webbers. 

The Tuckers. 

The Archers, or Robin Hoods. 

The Hoglers, or field labourers. 

Such entries as these are found : — 

" 1474, Croscombe. Comes the Webbers and bring in 
their stock of I2d. 


" Come Tokers and bring in their stock of I2d. 

" Come Hoglers and bring in their stock of lid. 

" Come young men and bring in their stock of nd. 

" Comes the maidens and brings in their stock of o,d. 

11 Comes Robin Hood and presents XXXIVs. and IVd." 

We see how popular was this last guild by the much 
larger amount they collected for the common stock. We have 
this entry in Croscombe account, " For the sport of Robard 
Hode, IXs. and VHId." 

Almost equally fortunate and popular was the Guild of 
the Maidens and Younglers. They must have suited the 
spirit of the age, and, indeed, of every age. They generally 
met together upon their festal days. Abbot Gasquet tells us 
that " at one place the maidens kept a bridge over which all 
had to pass on Hock Monday, and that they gathered much 
in the way of fees from passengers." 

Incidentally I may mention that their Hock-tide days, 
which were the second Monday and Tuesday after Easter, seem 
to have been especially the women's feast instituted, according 
to some, in memory of the massacre of the Danes in A.D. 1002. 

On this feast, according to custom, the married women 
seized and bound men, and then demanded a small payment 
for their release. In the parish of SS. Edmund and Thomas 
at Salisbury, the women paid a composition to secure them from 
binding on the Tuesday of Hock-tide. This composition was 
a good thing, and must have obviated much scandalous 

" By the gadering of the wives in the town for a glass 
window, 9/-, at Walberswick, in Suffolk, in 1496," is an illus- 
tration of this common feature in the mediaeval accounts. 

But the meeting of the maidens and the younglers must 
have brought in much grist to the mill. The whole parish 
must have been out. At one place, St. Peter's, Oxford, we 
read, that " the young men and maidens were keeping Hock 
day, and that on the Monday the maidens stopped the way 
and made the young men pay for passing, and on the second 
day the young men levied toll upon the maidens." We are 


not told whether any other toll than that of money was levied, 
but the temptation must have been strong to exact something 
of a rather more personal nature. 

Very miscellaneous were the offerings of these Guilds. 
Money was given sometimes, but more often articles of orna- 
ment, clothing, and household utensils, etc. Things like the 
following were included in the list :— *■ 

" A grette maser bowl, with a stone. A pouch of velvet, 
one of red another of blake. 12 honys (?) of silver gild. A 
gyrdell, a peyr of beads of corell, with 12 gawds of silver 
and onyx, a gyrdil with a bocelle, and pendants and 19 studs. 
A signet ring of silver and a tuel (towel) of twylly. A ker- 
chew, a brason Pott, a platter and XII trenchers, a poger 
(porringer), a carcho (kerchief), a bowese of wett (bushel of 
wheat), a charco of laune (a kerchief of lawn), a platter and 
eleven sowcers (saucers), and a peer of ere watt (cruet). A ring 
of gold." 

One form of gift was peculiar, and entailed a bit of farm- 
ing on the part of the wardens for the annual returns. Sheep, 
cows, and bees were often given, and managed by the wardens, 
but the management changing often, was difficult. 

" A flock of 10 sheep was let to farme unto Richard 
Down, of Croscombe, for the term of seven years, the rent for 
the year being n/6. The sheep to be delivered as good as 
they were, or else XIIIs. and Hid. in good and lawful money." 

At Pilton the church herd of cows had their own warden, 
who was called warden of the Church Key. 

William Canard (a name of ill omen) was one of these 

At Morebath almost every side altar was endowed With 
sheep, even St. Michael's, Bath's city parish, had a small 
flock of sheep. 

Another item of expense to which the people eagerly 
subscribed was the salary of the beadman or Bedel. This 
official's duty was to read out the list of benefactors and 
patrons of the church, and to ask the prayers of the con- 
gregation for them. He read, in fact, the bead-roll. The 


bidding prayer, always read before our university sermons, is 
a survival of this pious custom. To be included in this list 
was a much coveted honour, and great was the sacrifice made 
to secure it. Hardly a poor person but presented her gift for 
the privilege of " having her mynde " (memory) kept in the 
church. (The word mind, was spelt Mynde, myne.) 

For Annys Lancoteny's myne . . . . . . Id. 

For bred and ale to her myne . . . . . . Hd. 

For the mynd of W. Bocktun . . . . . . Id. 

For Wyll Bouton, ys mynde . . . . • . . Id. 

For the three myndes, Mansell, Harris & Bowton XHd. 

It is spoken of sometimes in other words. 
To John the chaplain for celebrating the souls of 

various men . . . . . . . . . . Vllld. 

For the bedrowyll to the brest (priest) at III 

tyinys . . . . . . . . . . . . XHd. 

The bederoll was read out on the anniversary day, when 
the great dirige was celebrated at the cost of the parish. In 
some cases the office of Bedeman was an hereditary one, as 
at Frome, where it has remained in the patronage of the 
owners of Orchard Leigh. 

The name " Badman," well known here, does not, as 
might be imagined, contain a slur upon the character of its 
owner, as in John Bunyan's story of Mr. Badman, but it is 
a modern rendering of the name of the official whose services 
were very much in request in every parish. " The poorest," 
says Bishop Hobhouse, " judging by their bequests, were 
anxious for his services." 

An iron crock, a girdle, a ring, a swarm of bees, and yet 
smaller gifts in kind may be found amongst the bequests of 
the poor which the wardens had to turn into money for their 

The provision for the various lights in the church seems 
to have been of prime importance ; nothing was endowed more 

The churchwardens were often called the Lightmen. The 
young men's associations seem to have been intended to serve 


Sale of the Manor of Keyford to Roger Saunders, 1594, for ^500. 

See page 323. 

Lease of lands lately belonging to the Chantry of the Virgin Mary 
in Frome to Richard Williams. 

See page 323. 



r *3 

JFLe/igicUse delbrdre dc S Jean dc 

See page 326. 


this purpose. The sum of 16/3 was collected at Pilton for 
the Easter light in 15 10, and most years. " For St. John's 
'is lights, 5/3. For light at the nativity of Christ, 1/1. For 
the High Cross light, 15/10." A separate fund, called the 
Alms-light, existed at Morebath. This entry occurs in the 
Yatton wardens' accounts : — 

" The Lythemen of ye Westerside ..£884 
The Lythemen of ye Easterside . . £V o II." 

This occurs several times. 

In 1526 we read : — " The receipts from the ales this year 
as of old from the lightmen of the east and west parts." 

" The truth probably is that the lightmen did their collect- 
ing work whilst the people were assembled at the ale at the 
church house." — Somerset Record Society, Vol. IV. 

There are two closes of pasture mentioned in all the " old 
conveyances of land " in the writer's possession, called 
Trendies. In one deed they are called the Trendleases. The 
word trendle means corona. It was the circular metal holder 
for the wax candles which hung before the altars of the saints, 
and in the Lady Chapel. 

The word " Le Trendle " is often found in the old church- 
wardens' accounts. Thus we read in accounts at Croscombe 
1474-5 :— 

" Comes John and brings in of the remayn of font-tapur 
and Trendel. 1474." 

" Comes John Joyce and Roger and presents in of font- 
tapur and Trendel. 1476 " 

" 1508. Pilton. Item for wax and makyn of Trendell, 11/3. 
11 1510. Pilton. Wax for the Trendell and makyng, 2/6. 
" 1446. Yatton. Item for makyng of the Trend yl, Xs. and IHId. 
" 1476. „ To W. Hoper, for Trendellys, VIIIs. 
"1483. ,, Furniture of church, Trendylles, XII. 
" 1515. „ For hopyng aTrendelle of ye church, Hid." — 
Somerset Record Society, Vol. IV. 

These entries show how frequent the mention of the 
Trendies was, and as the endowment of these lights for the 



church were common and expected benefactions, there is 
little doubt but that the rent of certain fields was left for this 
purpose, and the fields were always called by the use which 
these rents were put to. There seems to have been another 
field whose rents were devoted to the same purpose. We 
have, or had, a field called Rowles, and there was another in 
Kilmersdon. Thomas Candy rented land in Rowles in Hol- 
combe parish in 1827. 

Abbot Gasquet tells us that in some places, as, for 
example, Cratfield, there was a rowell or wheel or corona of 
candles kept burning on feast days before the rood. Probably 
in the absence of any other origin for our place name " Rowles," 
this may account for it. 

In Kilmersdon the rent of " Farrs "was devoted to the 
expense of a light in the church, but was diverted after the 
Reformation to secular purposes, and was eventually granted 
to Queen Henrietta Maria in the time of Charles I (vide 
Somerset Archaeological Society, 1884, p. 66). 

There were lamps in the churches as well as the corona or 
trendle or rowell. The Anglo-Saxons derived the use of 
lamps from the Romans, and were so utterly at a loss for a 
word to describe this mode of illumination, that they always 
called it Leoht-foet, a vessel for light. 

The field called Light-foots had, I believe, this earlier 
origin, and was granted to the church for the special purpose 
of a lamp to burn before the altar. 

Bishop Kennett, in his parochial antiquities, says, " A 
lamp or candle set burning on the altar of any church or 
chappel was often maintained by rent charges on lands given 
to religious houses and parish churches." He quotes several 
instances, amongst them the following : — 

" Richard de Camvil and Eustace, his wife, gave a virgate 
of land in Burcester to Robert Clerk (clericus) to find one lamp 
before the altar of St. Nicholas, which virgate of land seems 
to have been one part of Candle Meadow, so called with being 
thus charged with finding a light or candle in the conventual 


He tells us also that by the ecclesiastical constitution of 
Normandy, it was ordained that once a year, about Pentecost, 
the priest and capellanus should come with their people in a 
full procession to the Mother Church, and for every house 
should offer on the altar a wax taper to enlighten the 

There was an Isabella de Luzefoot who lived in Holcombe 
in 1333, and paid a subsidy upon her goods and chattels. It 
is more probable that she took her name from the land than 
that the land was called after her name. This distinctly in- 
dicates that the derivation of the field name Lightfoot, found 
here, comes from the use to which its rent was put of supplying 
a light (lux) for the church. 

At the court roll of the Manor of Guetterton, in Norfolk, 
in 1349, which court was called the Court of the Plague, a 
tenant is specially named as holding his house and ten acres 
on condition of keeping three lamps ever burning before the 
blessed Sacrament in the parish church. 

Another way of making a profit for the common chest, 
and also of eliciting goodwill among the parishioners, was the 
" church ale." 

There were clerks-ales and bid-ales as well. The former 
for the clerks' salary, the latter to assist any honest man 
decayed in his estate, by the liberal benevolence and con- 
tributions of friends at a feast, the materials of which were 
provided for him, and the invitation given in his name. But 
the church-ales were the most common of all these. This 
was a parish meeting at which cakes and small beer were 
purchased from the churchwardens, and consumed for the 
good of the parish. The ale provided was by no 
means strong, indeed, was hardly an intoxicant, being 
a sweet beverage made with hops or bitter herbs. Ale 
scot was the money brought by visitors to pay for their 

These ales were often given by individuals for the funds 
of the church. They were called " taverns," in Latin 
" Tabernae." 


So we read : — 

" To the Belle ringers, the Wendesdaye of Wytsondaye 
time of our Tavern we payde 40s." 


" Item de T. Dele et J. Crosse, custodibas luminis de 
Yatton pro taberna ipsorum IIII mark Vis. Xd." 

Here the ale or tavern was given by the wardens of the 

" For the wardens of Yatton for a tavern ale, £111 Xs. Vllld." 

Abbot Gasquet tells us that these ales were by no means 
devoid of their religious aspects. He says that " cups were 
used which were often dedicated, especially the general or 
loving cup, to saints." Archbishop Scrope, he says, attached 
an indulgence to one such cup. " Unto all them that drinks 
of this cope, X days pardon." 

" It was," as he says, " a curious mingling of things sacred 
and profane " ; so much so, I should say, that the sacred was 
lost sight of in the profane. These ales took place, at least in 
later mediaeval days, in the church house, which was provided 
in most parishes as more convenient and appropriate places 
than the aisle of the church, after the parish had outgrown 
the accommodation which the church could afford, and when 
there was too much boisterous and profane merriment to suit 
the religious sanctity of the place. Here there was a bake- 
house and a brewery and all other provisions for providing 
the materials for a feast. It was also used as a common 
parish hall ; and at Pilton we find that a slegge to break 
stones at the quarry was kept there, and also eight " tabyle 
clothes " for parish dinners. 

These ales brought in good returns to the parish ex- 
chequer. Sometimes they joined forces with a neighbouring 
parish and held inter-parochial ales ; so at Yatton we find 
the wardens attending the ales at Ken, Kingston, Wrington, 
Congresbury, with more or less regularity, making their 
contributions, commonly I2d., in the name of the parish, 


and at the cost of the parish, for in their persons the parish 
was deemed to be present. 

In return, the allied parishes attended the Yatton 
festivities with ale scot in hand. 

Thomas Coryate, the rector of Odcombe, near Yeovil, 
once instituted an inter-parochial ale of an extraordinary 
kind. He was a most eccentric man, who had been a " Globe 
Trotter," after being a hanger-on at the Court of James I, 
and had travelled through Europe, taking notes for a traveller's 
guide book, and on his return he had hung up the boots which 
had carried him over the course : in the village church at 

His book of travel was called " Coryate's Crudities," and 
crude indeed were his observations and information. Still, 
it is interesting, owing to the early date at which it was 
written, and his utterly naive and natural manner. He calls 
himself, in his preface to the reader, " Your benevolent, 
itinerating friend, T. C." " The Odcombian Legge Stretcher." 

He tells us, in his quaint words, the occasion of his making 
certain orations to the people of Odcombe and Yeovil. 

" It happened in the year 1606 that the church stock of 
my natatial parish of Odcombe being exhausted and spent, 
saving 16/-, some of my friends of the parish, among the rest 
the church wardens, solicited me to set abroad my wits and 
invent some conceited and plausible matter to the end to draw 
some great company of good fellows together for the benefit of 
our church of Odcombe, seeing they knew that I was well 
acquainted in the countrye." 

He then tells how he proceeded to work. He called a 
meeting of 100 of the best appointed men of his parish at 
Odcombe, cross-armed with muskets, calivers, partizans and 
hulberts, and accompanied with a good martial band and 
officers. With this following he marched to Yeovil (or Evill 
as he called it), 3 miles distant, being met on the way by the 
" Oppidanes of Evil," that consisted of two cohorts, one 
masculine and another feminine, and after there had been 
three or four volleys of shots discharged on both sides — in a 


harmless way — they descended a hill called Hendford and 
entered the town. In the market place, near to the cross, a 
kind of canopy was erected, under which he made them an 
oration, which consisted of an apology for the good custom of 
church ales, which he invited the people of Evill to entertain 
his party with, and then to pay his parish a return visit and 
feast with them. About these church ales he says he wished 
to communicate his slender opinion to them concerning the 
lawful use of that for which they were assembled, lest any 
captious or carping wits should object to his entry among 
them. He then likens the church ale to the feasts of love of 
the early Christians, which he says if rightly and religiously 
used, as they ought to be, without any outrageous enormities, 
were good and proper. " Truly, I think they are," he says ; 
" my reason is because they are feasts of charity, as those 
were, and they were instituted by our ancient progenitors 
many hundred years ago for these two causes especially, first, 
for the breeding of love between neighbours, and, secondly, 
for the raising of a stock for the support and maintenance of 
our church and the church affairs, so that I do most confi- 
dently believe that the good and religious use of church ales 
may be well retained if the abuses thereof be utterly banished 
and exterminated out of a Christian commonwealth, as 
drunkenness, gluttony, swearing, lasciviousness, with many 
more which indeed I must needs confess seem to be the in- 
separable accidents and individual adjuncts of church ales." 

After thus defending the custom of these church ales, and 
having, I suppose, participated of the Evilians' hospitality, 
he invited them to come to Odcombe and join in an inter- 
parochial ale with his parishioners. This they did, and no 
doubt the proceeds helped to replenish the church stock in 
his parish. 

This institution of the church ale seems to have been too 
good a thing by way of popularising church service to be 
allowed to drop out altogether. Certainly it existed in a 
modified form in the Vale of Belvoir about the middle of the 
last century, when Mr. Tidd Pratt, a Poor Law Commissioner, 


received this reply from a big farmer whom he had incidentally 
asked what his principles were : " My principles are Church 
and ale, sir." " How so ? " said Mr. Pratt. " Well, it's like 
this. Me and my men live on the same farm buildings, and 
they have their supper with me Sunday nights. If they've 
attended church once, they have a pint, if twice, a quart of 
ale. Our principles, sir, are church and ale." 

A still more characteristic festivity with the~same object 
in view, was the Wake. The word " wake " signifies Vigil. 
In early times the day was considered as beginning and ending 
at sunset. Sundays and saints' days consequently began, not 
in the morning, but on the previous evening, and worshippers 
then repaired to the churches for worship, with lights and 
other accessories. The following day was spent in feasting 
and amusements. The wake was also called the " Feast of 
Dedication," as it was held on the day of the patron saint of 
each particular church. They were also called " Rush- 
bearings," because rushes were carried and strewed in the 
church at re veilings or revels, a word which survived into 
the last century. (Plate XX.) 

Here in Holcombe the revel was kept in a place opposite 
the present Holcombe Inn in 1811, and the Lord of the 
Manor charged a toll of 1 /- for the erection of the stalls and 
booths there. It is needless to say that by that time the 
revel had altogether lost its religious character and associations. 
In Speght's "Glossary of Chaucer," the following description 
of wakes is given. 

" It was the manner in time past upon festival evens 
called vigiliae for parishioners to meet in their church houses 
or churchyards, and there to have a drinking fit for the time. 
Here they used to end many quarrels ; thither came the 
wives in comely manner, and they which were of the better 
sort had their mantles carried with them as well for show as 
to keep them from cold at the tables. These mantles many 
did use in church at morrow masses and other times." 

Another writer says : — " In the beginning of Holy Church, 
it was so that the people came to the churches with candellys 


brenning, and would wake and come with lights towards the 
church in their devotions, and after they fell to lechery, song, 
dancing, harping, piping, and also gluttony, and sinn. and so 
turned the holiness to cursedness ; whereof HolyjFaders 
ordained the pepul to leave that waking and to ^ fast the 
even." On these occasions the. floor was strewed with 
rushes, and the altar and pulpit decked with flowers and 
leaves. In the churchyard booths were erected to supply 
cakes and ale for the assembly. The day was kept'as a*holi- 
day ; crowds resorted to the wakes from neighbouring 
parishes. Hawkers, pedlars, and even merchants plied their 
trade, and ultimately they were mere fairs, little under the 
influence of the church, and disgraced by scenes of indulgence 
and revelry. In 1285 Edward I passed a statute which forbade 
fairs and markets to be held in country churches, but the evil 
still continued. In 1448 Henry VI, in whose time the Lol- 
lards had great influence, forbade all such trafficking on the 

In the next act of Henry VIII it was ordained that to 
avoid the great abuse and waste of time, and frequency of 
these wakes, they should all occur the same day, and not on 
the several saints' days, so that people might not be able to 
run away from th^ir parish to other churches. 

Still the abuse continued, and the churches were invaded 
and desecrated by revellers and roisterers if the day was wet, 
and they were driven away from the churchyard. 

The building of the church houses partly met the evil, 
but the Sunday still continued to be desecrated by scenes of 
revelry and debauchment. 

Queen Elizabeth tried to purge the Church of this flagrant 
evil. In the thirty-eighth year of her reign the justices 
assembled at Bridgwater, ordered the total suppression of all 
such wakes, and the order was signed by Popham, the Lord 
Chief Justice. James I renewed the order, but in the days of 
Charles I Archbishop Laud and his party set their faces dead 
against any such reform, as they said it infringed upon the 
special functions of the Bishop and Clergy. 


Archbishop Laud snubbed the judges of the king's courts, 
and wrote for further information to Bishop Pierce, of Bath 
and Wells, who defended these Sunday feastings and amuse- 
ments on the ground that they were religious observances, 
and brought people to church, and promoted goodwill and 
friendliness, and provided funds for church purposes, and 
kept people from -the ale-house and conventicle. The Wakes, 
then, held their ground till a much later date, as they were 
very popular. Tusser, the agricultural poet of the Tudor 
age, writes thus in his " 500 Points of Good Husbandry " : — 
" Fill oven with flawns, Jenny, pass not for sleep ; 
To-morrow thy father his wake-day doth keep. 
Then every wanton may dance at his will, 
Both Johnkin and Tomkin and Jenkin with Gill." 
The etymology of the word " wake "is interesting. 
The words " wake " and " watch " were for centuries 
the same. Wycliff translated Mark xii. Chapter 37 : " For- 
sooth that that I say to you I say to all, wake ye." 

Thus the somewhat strange expression in Psalm cxxvii. 1, 
is explained. " The watchman waketh but in vain." That 
a sentinel should require rousing is opposed to all our ideas of 
the duties associated with his office. It should be " The 
watchman watcheth but in vain." 

Our Holcombe family of Gaits are the lineal descendants 
of those famous watchmen or wakers who formerly peram- 
bulated the village at dead of night with their old lanterns 
and gave the hour of the night and the state of the weather, 
and insured the peace of our slumbers. The old Jarvy still is 
heard and seen in the streets of some Irish towns. 

The waits were the wakers who came round on the vigil 
of the saint's day (St. Thomas' day in the parish of Horsing- 
ton), and serenaded the sleeping villagers with their unearthly 
melodies and weird sounds. A writer of the Stuart period 
thus alludes to this uncouth practice. 

" That you are vexed their wakes your neighbours keep, 
They guess it is because you want your sleep. 
I therefore wish that you your sleep should take, 
That they without offence might keep their wake." 


The music which these waits played was most unearthly 
and startling, and awoke the heaviest sleeper. It was the 
production of volunteers, as well it might be, but they looked 
for a gratuity at Christmas when they came round again as 
members of the orthodox village band. Later in the same 
day the children came round begging for apples or pence, and 
taking it very much amiss if they were refused. This appears 
to have been a relic of a custom prevalent in olden days in 
many Somerset and Dorset villages. The date varied, but the 
custom was the same. In some places it was called Shroving 
and Lent Crockings. The children begged for a piece of pan- 
cake or ruckle cheese, and threatened with dire penalty those 
who refused. This penalty when carried out consisted of 
pots and pans being thrown at the door and the door being 
hammered continuously with a great marrow bone. Our 
Horsington children, however, were too well behaved to visit 
us with such penalties, though we must have fallen under their 
displeasure for setting our faces against such begging practices. 

There is plain proof that Holcombe folk had their wake 
in early days, for there is a field called Wake Mead. It is also 
called Wheat-mead, but this must be a modern corruption, 
as no arable lands were ever called " meads," a word exclu- 
sively signifying grass land. 

It was probably part of the old field called Lightfoots, 
which now contains seven acres, but at the date when the 
wake-mead is mentioned only five acres, the difference 
eventually being made up by the two acres of the wake-mead 

Much is due to the action of the Puritans of the Common- 
wealth, which shifted the wakes and ales from Sundays to 
ordinary days, and drove the roisterers from the churches and 
churchyards to the market squares, and village greens, and 
ordained that the ancient festivals should no longer be held 
in the precincts of places devoted to Divine service and a 
sacred use. And, happily, in the reactionary legislation of 
the restoration there was no revival of such things as were 
sanctioned by James I.'s " Sports Book." 


Left to the action of time the sacred feasts and church 
iairs, the wakes, revels and ales of the 17th century have 
gradually dwindled and dropped into such insignificance and 
disrepute that no decent people would care to raise a 
voice in their defence. Their modern representatives, the 
meetings of the village club and friendly societies, are con- 
ducted with all propriety, and the Dedication days of the 
Church, and harvest festivals indulge in no more conviviality 
than that of public teas and musical suppers. 

I fear that the records of former days do not justify a 
conclusion that religion had much effect on daily life and 

The rolls of the King's Courts and Manor Courts are 
stained with the records of law-breaking and immorality; 
burglary, rape, arson, theft, harbouring of thieves, wounding 
and slaying were common offences. Perjurers swore away 
the life of the innocent. Disregard of the marriage vow was 
also common ; incontinence was frequently visited in the 
Manor Courts with heavy fines, payable to the lords. 

The Durham " Halmote " Rolls or Manor Leet Court 
Rolls give us a vivid picture of the rural population of the 
County of Durham, and in them we have village society 
photographed to the life, and the editor of these rolls says 
that the frequent orders upon the tenants not to transgress 
in word or deed, or with staves, arrows or knives, and the 
numerous fines for drawing knives to strike and striking with 
knives, and the volubility of the villeins in court, rather 
suggest some points of resemblance between the tenants of 
the Prior and the peasantry of the present day in our Sister 
Isle. And the record of crimes brought to light by Sir C. 
Chad wick Healy point to the same, or to a more melancholy 

The fines for " Lehrwit," or incontinence, in the Manor 
Courts of the Bishop of Durham quite outnumber those 
exacted for merchet or the licence for the villein to marry his 

The traders and merchants of the 12th century bore a 


bad name abroad for their dishonest methods and shoddy 

All this does not look as though the religion of the Church 
and her services had much effect upon the conduct of the 
people. In 1297 Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury, had to 
issue a constitution passed at a Synod at Reading, forbidding 
among other things the holding of benefices in plurality, 
which, he says, had become a great scandal, and the con- 
cubinage of the clergy now grown to such an extent as, 
according to the words of the Archbishop, to become a 
common scandal. 

Assaults on the part of clerics seem to have been noto- 
riously common. In West Somerset Sir C. Chadwyck Healey 
tells us that in 1281 Henry the Chaplain of Porlock struck 
and felled the Fuller on the head with a certain stick in that 
tithing, who forthwith died. Henry was taken and imprisoned 
at Ilchester, and tried at the Assizes. At the same Assizes, 
Thomas, the Chaplain of Cattenor, or Culbone, was indicted 
that he had struck Albert of Essh, or Ash, on his head with a 
hatchet and so killed him. 

Again, at Kinemersdon (Kilmersdon) we find that 
Nicholas, the Chaplain, was accused of killing Nicholas, the 
miller's brother, at Radstock, and though the jurors testify 
that he is not guilty, the mere suspicion of such an offence in a 
cleric is a serious comment upon the character of the clergy 
of the day. As the learned author of the " History of Luc- 
combe," says, " Truly the chaplains of these days seem to 
have been quarrelsome people." Once more we read (Lord 
Hylton's ' Kilmersdon') that on October nth, 1488, Sir John, 
the Vicar of Kilmersdon, had against the peace of our Lord 
the King made an assault with three stones upon John 
Vincent, and that the year previous his clerk, the holy water 
bearer, a man in minor orders, broke into the house of the 
same man and assaulted his wife with a dagger. 

Poaching also seems to have been a diversion of some 
of the clergy. In 1251, in Rockingham Forest, a trap for deer 
was found, and upon the house of the Chaplain of Sudborough, 


Robert, being searched, the woodwork of a trap, with the cord 
broken, was found, and on the cord deer's hair. 

Another indictment of the clergy comes from the mouth 
of a Norman, Peter of Blois, who held several appointments 
in the Church of England, among which was that of Arch- 
deacon of Bath. His letters, sermons, and treatises were 
published at Paris by Andrew Boccard, and printed by John 
Petit in a beautiful folio volume in 15 19, a copy of which is 
now in the writer's possession. He was invited here by Henry 
I, and became Chancellor of Canterbury in addition to other 
preferments. He was a good man, and writes some sympa- 
thetic words to his royal patron upon the loss of the king's son. 
He also writes later on on behalf of the captive King Richard I 
to the Pope, advocating his intervention with the Emperor 
Henry VI., who held him captive. He has also something to 
say respecting Thomas a Becket. 

But he also felt bound to remonstrate with the clergy 
upon their love of sport and unclerical habits. He tells 
Reginald, a dignitary of Salisbury, addicted to fowling, 
that a hair shirt, and a hawk, mortifying the flesh, and similar 
pastimes do not suit well together. He tells him that as a 
Christian teacher he should leave off running and shouting 
after birds. Walter, an octogenarian hunter, Bishop of 
Rochester, is thus reprimanded : "I wish you to know that 
the Pope has heard that you take no care of your diocese, and 
pay no regard to the dignity of your office, but give up your 
whole life to a pack of hounds, and that age has not produced 
any moderation in you. My father, he says a man of eighty 
ought to have nothing to say to such matters, and much less a 
Bishop, you are bound to pursue a very different kind of 

The same authority states that some of the clergy prac- 
tised chaffering, and dealt in wares to increase their revenues, 
and that clerks, disappointed of the benefices they wished for, 
betook themselves to the woods and joined with robbers in 
plundering and murdering their successful rivals. All this does 
not testify to a high standard of clerical conduct. 


Probably the religion of many of the clergy was of a 
merely nominal and professional kind. The cowl did not 
make the monk, nor did the profession of religion make the 
moral parson. 

Chaucer's parson was probably a great exception to his 

I venture to insert some lines, though so well known : — 
" Good man there was of religion, 
And was a poor parson of a town. 
But rich he was of holy thought and work ; 
He was eke a lerned man and a clerk 
That Christ's Gospel truly would preach, 
His parisiens devoutly would he teach. 
Benign he was and wonder diligent, 
And in adversity full patient. 

Wide was his parish and house far asunder, 

But he left neither for rain nor for thunder. 

This noble example to his sheep he gave, 

That first he wrought and afterwards taught 

Out of the gospel the words he caught. 

And this figure he added eke thereto, 

That if gold rust, what should iron do ? 

For if a priest be foul on whom we trust, 

No wonder is a lewd man to rust. 

Well ought a priest example for to give 

By his cleanesse how his sheep should live." Etc., etc. 
Here we have rather the ideal of what the parson should 
be, than a picture of what he commonly was at that day. 

On the whole we must conclude that a larger number 
were addicted to coarse and brutal pursuits and frivolous 
amusements, as cock-fighting, cards, dice, hunting the 
hare unlawfully, that some led vicious lives, haunting 
taverns, and giving way to drink and unclean living ; and 
that a large number, perhaps a majority, were men who, with- 
out being absolutely depraved or devoid of conscience, yet were 
strongly tinctured with a sordid and worldly spirit. 

One thing which operated against the morality of the 
clergy was that they were not subjected to the same pains 
and penalties as laymen. They could always escape, at 


least for the time, the clutches of the law. They could plead 
" Benefit of clergy " when they were arraigned for any 
felony or misdemeanour. When a clerk was seized, under a 
charge of murder or some other crime, the Ordinary stepped 
forth, and claimed him for the Court Christian, whereunto the 
whole matter was at once relegated. There the Bishop, or 
his deputy, sat as judge. Before a jury of twelve clerks the 
prisoner declared his innocence on oath. He was ready with 
twelve compurgators (witnesses to character), who said all 
they could for him, after which, on the question of fact, some 
witnesses were examined for, but none against him. This 
curious proceeding soon became a sham. Nearly all those 
who were accused got off, or, at worse, only suffered 
degradation or imprisonment. 

In succeeding times the privilege was extended to the 
minor clergy, as clerks, holy-water bearers, even doorkeepers, 
in fact anyone who could read, as this was reckoned a special 
qualification of the clergy alone, was granted his " benefit of 

Reading, in fact, became the only test demanded, and a 
sure way of clearing a man from the consequences of his 

The examination necessary to constitute a man a 
scholar and parson was not very difficult. You had but to 
read what came to be facetiously called the " Neck Verse " 
from the book which the officer of the court handed you 
when you pleaded your " clergy." This neck verse was the 
first verse of the 50th Psalm in the Vulgate, " Miserere met, 
Deus," i.e., " Have mercy on me, O God." 

It seems strange that it was ever recorded of anyone 
that he did not read, and was, therefore, condemned to be 
hanged, for surely it was easy to get these words by heart, and 
to repeat them at the proper time. And yet, sometimes, 
criminals were so grossly ignorant and stupid or bewildered 
that they failed, and paid the penalty with their lives. 

In the reign of Henry VIII an important change was 
made. A person who claimed " his clergy " was to be branded 


on the crown of his thumb with an M if he were a murderer, ' 
if he were guilty of any other felony with an F. 

It was with this Tyburn F that Ben Jonson was branded. 

The poet killed a brother actor called Gabriel Spencer in 
a duel. He had a true bill found against him, and in 1598 
was taken to the Old Bailey to stand his trial. He pleaded 
guilty, asked for the book, read his verse glibly, as became 
the author of " Every man in his Humour " and " Drink to 
me only with thine eyes," and was marked with the letter F 
and then set at large to play his part again in the glories of 
the Elizabethan stage. 

This strange anomaly lingered till 1827, when it died a 
natural death, and even pedants must have heaved a sigh of 

In 1841 the last vestige of the system vanished from the 
statute book, and happily by this time the occasion for such 
exemption on the part of the clergy was no longer needed. 



Old Holcombe Church. Interior. 

See page 376. 

Old Holcombe Church (now disused). 

See page 376. 

Chapter XV. 


ANEW state of things was ushered in at the Reformation. 
An old doggerel runs thus : — 

" Hops, reformation, bays and beer, 
Came into England all in one year." 

The Reformation, however, was happily associated with 
something better than hops and beer. Whatever may be 
said as to its extravagance and abuses, there is no doubt that 
it introduced a desirable change, both in regard to doctrine 
and practice. Anyhow, the deliverance of the Church and 
Realm from the Papal yoke must be acknowledged to have 
been a happy consummation. 

With theu freedom from papal supremacy there came 
also gradually a deliverance from that rigorous yoke of eccle- 
siastical discipline which was one of Rome's choice weapons 
of argument. The laity were allowed to hold their own 
■opinions without being subjected to penalties in consequence. 
The discipline under which they had been placed before and 
under which they still suffered, had been vexatious and un- 
reasonable. They were forbidden to marry during several 
seasons of the church's year besides Lent. These lines, 
translated from the Latin, which I found on the fly-leaf of an 
old book of sermons of 1605, give the times during which 
marriage was prohibited and unlawful : — 

" Advent bids thee to contain, 
Hilary sets thee free again. 
Septuagesima says thee nay, 
Eight days from Easter says you may, 
Ascension pleads thy chastity, 
Yet thou mayst wed at Trinity." 

The regulations as to fasting were absurdly rigorous and 
353 aa 


dispensations from the statutory obligation of abstaining 
from meat were sometimes recorded in the register. The law 
was so stringent in its provisions, and so rigidly enforced 
during the primacy of Archbishop Laud, that when the plague 
was raging in Hull in 1636, and the mayor and aldermen of 
that city petitioned the Archbishop of York for a general 
dispensation for the townsmen to eat meat during the ensuing 
Lent on the grounds that a fish diet was likely to increase the 
plague, the Archbishop replied that the law did not allow him 
to grant any such license, and that in the event of sickness, a 
physician's certificate must be given in each case. 

Abstinence from flesh on Saturday as well as Friday was 
not merely an ordinance of the Church, for a royal proclama- 
tion says it was ordained not only for health and discipline, 
but for the benefit of the commonwealth and profit of the 
fishing trade. Even our homilies take this view of the 
matter, and say that it was not merely respecting religion, but 
in order that " the fisher towns bordering upon the sea be 
maintained for the increase of fishermen of whom do spring 
mariners to the furniture of the navy and defence of the 
realm." In fact it was nearly for the same purpose that 
woollen caps were ordered to be worn by all lads under 16 on 
Sundays and holidays, viz., as a piece of protective legislation 
for the support of a special form of industry and livelihood 
derived thereby. 

The Reformation, too, paved the way for the abolition 
of the cruel and indecent penances by which, in former days, 
the Church punished immoral and recalcitrant people. We 
have an illustration of how far this was carried in the ecclesias- 
tical records of our diocese. Robert Gyan, a layman, in 1337, 
appeared before the Chapter of Wells Cathedral, and owns to 
having cut down trees at the Chapter's Manor at North Curry, 
and beaten the servants. He is excommunicated and made 
to pay eight marks for poaching and £10 for the timber, and as 
he submits to the excommunication, he is only (?) punished 
by being whipped three times round North Curry Church 
and three times round Wells Cathedral, naked, except for his 


trousers, and each day he has to carry a lighted wax candle, 
which he is to hold in the nave of the churches aforesaid from 
the time of the procession before mass to the offertory, when 
he is to approach the altar and offer the candle humbly to the 
celebrant, and he and the dignitary, who celebrates, are to 
declare penitentially, publicly, and distinctly in the mother 
tongue, the cause of this penance and of the obligation. 

In addition to this it was ordered that the said Robert 
Gyan shall give satisfaction to Roger Coppe, the servant 
whom he assaulted, to the amount of 40 shillings, and for 
the ecclesiastical offence he shall again be whipt round the 
said churches other six Sundays, and make an offering of a 
wax candle as aforesaid. 

For another thing, the Bible was no longer kept as a 
sealed book from the laity, but ordered to be translated into 
the vulgar tongue and read in all the churches. But Bibles 
were so rare that they had to be chained to the desk in the 
place where they were appointed to be read. Such a Bible 
existed in Frome Church, chained to the western window, 
almost within modern times. In 1558 an entry was made 
in the Yatton churchwardens' accounts of the purchase of a 
Bible, as follows : " For a bybull of the largest volume, n/-." 

This must have been Cranmer's great Bible of 1549. 

Few could read a page of the Bible at that date. 

It was the condition of the appointment of parish clerk 
that he could do so. 

Few also could expound the Bible, so the commentary 
of Erasmus, of Rotterdam, was ordered to be placed in every 

Milbourne Port possessed such an one, which was kept in 
the vestry, not so long ago. An entry appears in the Yatton 
churchwardens' accounts of 11/4 being paid in 1538 for a book 
called the Paraphrasis of Erasmus. The book was printed by 
Whitchurch, and dedicated to Edward VI. The reading 
of the Common Prayer in a language understood by the people 
and not in Latin followed the former change. Probably the 
use of the Prayer Book, when it was sung in an unknown 


tongue, was about as intelligent as that of the working man, 
who, being asked by the late Harvey Goodwin, Bishop of 
Carlisle, what prayers he used before going to his work, 
answered : " What I does is this. I lays my hand on my 
Prayer Book and looks up and says, ' Them's my sentiments.' " 

This, however, was quite characteristic of the crude ideas 
and unintelligent practice of the working man of our early 
days in connection with daily prayer. 

Many others, no doubt, besides the author, have heard 
the declaration made by their parishioners as to the form of 
prayer they were regularly accustomed to use. It was as 
follows : — 

" Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, 
Bless the bed I lies on ; 
Four angels round my bed, 
Two at the foot, two at the head." 

Few perhaps, however, know that a similar form of 
prayer or invocation of blessing was used by country people 
with reference to their crops in the Saxon England of Christian 

The formula was, " Say Paternoster an equal number of 
times, then carry the turfs to the Church and let the mass- 
priest sing four masses over them, and let the green side be 
turned towards the altar. And then carry the turfs before 
sunset to the place they came from, and have ready made of 
juniper tree four crucifixes, and write on each end, ' Mattheus, 
Marcus, Lucus, and Johannes.' Lay the crucifix down in the 
hole, and say, ' crux Mattheus, crux Marcus, crux Lucus, crux 
Johannes,' then take the turf and place it thereon, repeating 
nine times the words ' Crescite and Paternoster, etc' ' 

Another change for the better introduced by the Refor- 
mers was the more frequent and painstaking practice of 
preaching in the congregation. 

The pulpit discourses of the English clergy, prior to the 
Reformation, were infrequent, and for the most part dry and 
formal. They consisted of Postils and Homilies. The Postil 
as well as the Homily was a running commentary upon long 


passages of Scripture, such as was the custom in the days of 
St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Bernard, and the early Fathers 
of the Church. More particularly was the Postil a method of 
teaching by question and answer. The Postils of Corvinus, on 
the Gospels and Epistles of the Church's Year, printed at 
Strasburg, 1536, and translated and published by Reginald 
Wolfe at the Sign of the Brazen Serpent, St. Paul's Church- 
yard, was in common use in the early part of the sixteenth 
century. The writer has a curiously illustrated copy of this 
book in his library, which is as fresh now as when first 

The Homily was a kind of moral essay upon Christian 
duties. But even these discourses were few and far between. 
In 1538 Henry VIII was of opinion that, so long as a congre- 
gation heard four sermons a year, it had an ample supply of 
moral instruction. Edward VI enjoined that eight sermons 
should be delivered yearly in every Parish Church, four of 
them to uphold the royal supremacy as against that of the 
Pope, and the other four upon some scriptural and protestant 
doctrine. A regular book of homilies was published in Queen 
Elizabeth's reign, and ordered to be read once a Sunday in 
all churches where a regular licensed preacher's services were 
not available. By the middle of the century, good preachers 
had sprung up, such men as Archbishop Cranmer, Jewell, 
Tindall, Hall, and Latimer, who were famed for their eloquence 
and erudition. In the days of Charles I George Herbert was 
of opinion that the model country parson would not fail to 
give his parishioners a sermon every Sunday. More than one, 
however, was not considered expedient, and Archbishop Laud, 
and Pierce, Bishop of Bath and Wells, put their feet down 
upon the growing custom of giving the people a second sermon 
or instruction from the pulpit in the afternoon. Not that 
there was any lack of good and eloquent preachers in the 
seventeenth century, though they were mostly confined to the 
London churches and Cathedral pulpits. Isaac Barrow, 
Jeremy Taylor, Gilbert Burnet, Archbishop Tillotson, Baxter, 
South, and others were notable examples. The effect of 


Bishop Burnet's sermons was so great, that he was often 
interrupted by the hum of his audience inciting him to go on, 
till the sand had run out once more from the hour glass, when 
he held it up to the congregation to certify that his hour's 
limit was passed. 

Barrow was a very eloquent and popular preacher. His 
sermons were excessively long. One, on charity, lasted three 
hours and a half, and the congregation were obliged to get the 
organist to play him down. He preached extempore, even 
without notes, a rare custom in those days. The written 
sermon was not nearly so popular, and those who adopted it 
were taunted with the stigma of being " bosom preachers," 
because they took their manuscript out of the folds of their 
preaching gowns. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
were the days of the " painful preachers," not because they 
gave pain to their audience, but because they took pains to 
make their sermons interesting, full of point, illustrations and 
allusions. Homely metaphors were taken from common, 
every-day life, and the dealings of the market, the sports of the 
hunting field and the cock pit, and even the games of card 
and dice were utilized as illustrations of far more serious 

Even riddles and stories were used to arrest attention. 
The writer has before him some examples of this curious 
custom, which is interesting as illustrating the quaint conceits 
of the preachers, and the strangely perverted taste of the day. 
They are taken out of the sermons of Dr. Thomas Playfair, a 
University, Court, and City preacher, and Lady Margaret 
Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. The " Sick Man's Couch " 
was the title of a famous sermon he preached at Greenwich, 
before the most noble Prince Henry, the eldest son of James I, 
who died young. 

Another strange sermon was preached at " St. Marie's, 
Spittle," in London, on Tuesday in Easter week, 1595. The 
text was, " Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves," and it 
was called the " meane in mourning." He divided it into 
eight parts : — 


First, " weep not." 

Second, " but weep." 

Third, " weep not, but weep." 

Fourth, " for me." 

Fifth, " for yourselves.' . 

Sixth, " for me, for yourselves." 

Seventh, " weep not for me." 

Eighth, " but weep for yourselves." 
He addresses his congregation thus, " Right honourable, 
right worshipful, and most Christian and blessed brethren." 
His illustrations are most quaint, not to say grotesque, and 
verging upon the profane. 

At the end we have a wonderful panegyric on the City 
of London, which he introduces as follows : " Pindar us 
reporteth there was an opinion of the City Rhodes that gold 
rained down upon it. If ever gold did rain down in any city, 
I think it is rather this city than Rhodes. Not only for 
abundance of gold and worldly riches, where with it is re- 
plenished, but also much more for infinite spiritual gifts, and 
golden graces of God. Oh ! London, London, excellent, ex- 
cellent things are spoken of thee, O thou city of God ! It is 
spoken of thee, that thou employest a great part of thy 
wealth to the relief of poor orphans, of poor soldiers, of poor 
scholars. It is spoken of thee, that thou dost reverence 
religion, and love the truth more than any part of this realm 
doth besides. It is spoken of thee, that none are more 
obedient, none more ready than thou art, both with body 
and goods to defend the State. It is spoken of thee, that thou 
art so famous in all foreign countries, that as Athens was 
called the ' Greece of Greece,' so London is called the ' England 
of England.' And we may almost as well say that all Eng- 
land is in London, as that all London is in England. These 
are excellent things I assure you beloved, excellent things 
indeed. Wherefore we which have received so many singular 
graces of God, should above all other be thankful for them." 
One can fancy how the faces of the Lord Mayor and 
Corporation of the City would beam upon the preacher, as 


they listened to all this, and how warmly they would welcome 
him at the City feast which succeeded the religious function. 

The Rev. Humphrey Sydenham, M.A., of Wadham 
College, Oxford, a Somerset man, was a noted preacher in 
Charles I.'s reign. He preached at St. Mary's, Oxford, and at 
Paul's Cross, and his last sermon was at Brympton, at the 
funeral of his relation, Sir John Sydenham. 

It was styled " Nature's overthrow and death's triumph," 
after the fashion of the day to give striking titles to sermons. 
Others I have read, such as " The remedy of reason," " The 
Athenian Babbler," " Marie's Memorial," " The Voice of the 
Cryer/' " A Conduit of Comfort," " The Sick Man's Salve," 
" The Pomander of Prayer," and " The Hypocrite Unmasked." 

At an earlier date Latimer's discourses were vigorous and 
full of point and illustration ; they were almost a history in 
themselves of the customs of those days. 

They did not gain him much popularity with the Romish 
clergy, as he exposed their deficiencies unmercifully ; and in 
his sermon called " The Plough," at Oxford, he castigated 
the clergy of his day in a masterly manner. Poor Latimer did 
not always get a good reception. Once he came on a preaching 
tour arrayed in rochet and cope to Mayfield parish church, and 
found the door shut against him although he had given notice 
of his coming. The only excuse of the churchwardens was 
that the people were all out at play, as it was Robin Hood's 

But at the beginning of the 18th century preachers were 
getting duller and duller. At last the chief effect of their 
sermons seemed to be to lull people to sleep. Hogarth's 
picture of the sleeping congregation is well known. Even the 
preacher's faithful henchman, the parish clerk, is seen to have 
succumbed to the somniferous discourse. The story is told 
that once when the congregation and clerk had been thus 
lulled to sleep, the preacher suddenly stopped, and said to a 
farmer in the gallery : " Farmer Jones, Farmer Jones, there's 
some boys robbing your orchard, I can see them through the 
window," whereupon the clerk suddenly awakening, and 


thinking he had to respond, answered : " As it was in the 
beginning, is now, and ever shall be." 

Another clerk, an old cricketer, aroused thus suddenly 
by the preacher coming to a dead stop, cried out, " Over, 

Some clergy had recourse to startling statements to arouse 
their sleeping flocks. " Fire, fire," cried out a preacher, 
and upon some members of the congregation crying out, 
" Where, where." " In hell," said the preacher, " where all 
who sleep under the preaching of the Gospel will surely go." 

Dean Ramsey, of Edinburgh, formerly Curate-in- charge 
of Frome Parish Church, tells of a certain illiterate but clever 
Methodist preacher in this mining district, who, about seventy 
years ago, preached on the text, " I can do all things through 
Christ which strengtheneth me." He began by only quoting 
the first half of the text, " I can do all things," then he paused, 
and looking at the Bible keenly, said in his own native Somerset 
dialect : " What's that thee says, Paul ? I can do all things ? 
I bet thee half a crown o' that," taking at the same time a half 
crown out of his pocket and putting it on the page. " How- 
ever," he added, " let's see what the Apostle has to say 
further for himself." So he read on, " through Christ which 
strengtheneth me." " Oh ! if that's the terms of the bet, I'm 
off." Then he pocketed the half crown and preached the 
sermon on the power of Christian grace. 

But so scandalously prevalent was the custom of sleeping 
in church that a special person was deputed to remedy the 
evil, called the sluggard waker. His office was often combined 
with that of the dog whipper, who used his whip to good 
purpose when dogs showed a religious turn of mind by follow- 
ing their masters into church. This would never do in Scot- 
land, as the collie is an inseparable companion of the shepherd 
to the kirk. 

Again, the Reformation brought in a more hearty and 
congregational system of worship. Hitherto the services of 
the Church had been of a most mechanical and formal kind. 
Conventionality was the order of the day. The priest per- 


formed all the service and the laity only looked on. But under 
the new system the laity were allowed to take their part, and 
worship became more congregational. Unhappily, a reaction 
set in in the 18th century, and the services became too un- 
conventional, not to say irreverent and slovenly. 

A little unconventionality is rather a refreshing tonic. 
How delightful was the hearty reply of the old Duke of Cam- 
bridge to the clergyman's invitation in church, " let us pray." 
" By all means, sir, by all means." 

But in the Georgian era there was but little heartiness to 
redeem this unconventionality. 

This was the day of the lofty three-deckers, deep galleries, 
string bands, antiquated clerks, barrel organs, anthems, and 
psalms, with long doxologies. The anthems were a marvellous 
attempt at devotional melody. The zeal of the performers 
was great, but the outcome often painful. This was the one 
part of the service when no one could sleep. Then there was 
the orchestra in the gallery, there were flutes, clarionets, bass 
viols, fiddles, bassoons, not quite all Nebuchadnezzar's band 
with sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, but 
probably quite as noisy. 

When they began to tune up it was enough to give a 
stranger a fit. I knew a lady who did go off into hysterics. 

The bassoons were the pride of the village ; they called 
them the baboons. " Let's go and hear the baboons," said 
one. They fell out sometimes among themselves, and some- 
times struck. Like the bell ringers, they knew their own 
importance, and had to be humoured. But after all it was 
to some extent a loss when their labours were superseded by 
other kinds of instruments, as it was a good thing for them to 
interest themselves in the ritual of the church and keep up the 
musical talent of the village. 

With the next substitute all intelligent and artistic 
musical efforts were squashed. The barrel organ only 
wanted an organ grinder. It was an instrument that could 
not be relied upon, as the mechanism often got out of order 
and the handle stuck. I remember a barrel organ in a remote 


church in the Isle of Purbeck, in Dorsetshire, which played 
us this bad trick, and put an end to the singing. A barrel 
organ was once purchased for some people in the wilds of 
Canada for their use on Sundays, that at least it might recall 
to their minds the religious associations of the old Sunday at 
home, but when they turned the handle they found, to their 
consternation, that it only played secular airs, such as " Jump 
Jim Crow " and " Pop goes the Weasel." 

The barrel organ was succeeded by the harmonium, 
played often by the clergyman's wife or daughter ; it was 
dubbed the " sacred piano " by a village clerk I once knew; 
His work was thereby quite superseded ; he felt it, and said 
to one lady with consummate scorn after giving out the hymn, 
" Now, miss, strike up." 

The organ is quite a modern invention, for the organs we 
read of in old churchwardens' accounts were only a kind of 
set of tubes or barrels, so at Yatton we read in the accounts in 
1526 : " For making a fote to ye organs, 4/-," and in 1534 we 
find that eleven pence was paid at "Ye tuning of ye organs 
for beer." 

The office was at this time so common as to have 
produced a surname, and we hear of Harry Organs at 

Funerals in those days were often the occasion of un- 
seemly conduct, which would even have aroused the ghost of 
poor Yorick. Familiarity with the proceedings caused under- 
takers, sextons and grave-diggers to forget the decency due to 
the obsequies of the dead. 

The trade of undertaker is modern, and was unknown in 
England before 1688. It arose out of the wish to retrench 
the enormous expenses incurred when families provided their 
own materials and furniture. 

Eating and drinking was once a common custom at every 
funeral. People were proud of their display of hospitality on 
these occasions. We have heard of one woman who boasted 
she had buried four children " with ham," meaning that ham 
had been provided to regale the guests at the funeral. 


The deceased in their wills often left money for their 
funeral sermons and feast. 

One gentleman's will read thus : "I will that mine 
executors, as soon as it may come to their knowledge that I 
am dead, shall make a drinking for my soul to the value of 
6/8 in the church of Spole." 

Funerals must have been simple enough in the days when 
the dead were buried in a winding sheet, a custom that Shake- 
speare speaks of in " Julius Caesar," when he talks of " The 
sheeted dead." 

As late as 1696 the dead were buried in shrouds only. 
The charge for a burial in a shroud was 4/2. Coffins were first 
used in country churchyards in 1715. When Sir John Moore 
was buried, as Charles Wolfe tells us : — 

" No useless coffin enclosed his breast, 
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him ; 
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest, 
With his martial cloak around him." 

In those days sermons were considered essential accom- 
paniments of a proper funeral. They were provided to order. 
Preachers charged special prices according to the quality of 
the discourse. You could have your 7/6 or your 10/6 or your 
guinea sermon. For the lowest fee you got a respectable 
discourse, for the medium fee a polished one, but for your 
guinea you could command one which would move any con- 
gregation to tears. I see by the way that a lower fee was 
sometimes charged, as a funeral sermon was preached at 
Kilmersdon by the vicar over the wife of a very worthy 
parishioner, a Mr. Wallyn, for which he paid only 6/8. 

But the practice of the clerk calling out at the grave 
side as to who had brought the affidavit that the corpse was 
buried in woollen only, according to law, must have occasioned 
an unseemly disturbance. 

Funerals were sometimes performed at dead of night for 
the sake of secrecy, owing to the deceased dying excommuni- 
cated, or to save the coffin from being seized by the bailiffs. 
In days gone by the law relating to the burial of suicides was 


very strict. They were buried at cross roads " with a stake 
in their inside." 

Cannard's grave and Tucker's grave and Comber's grave 
in this vicinity were illustrations of this custom. 

Another unseemly practice I can remember was that the 
clergy robed before the public, and their vestments were hung 
upon the chancel rails. Once the surplice was found to be 
missing, and a messenger was hurriedly sent to the rectory to 
bring it down. When it came, and the clergyman thought to 
put it on, it was found to be the cook's under garment 

The black gown was always put on before the sermon and 
the surplice discarded. I once saw this change made twice 
at the Octagon Chapel, Bath. The alms were generally col- 
lected in brass basins or china plates. A hat was once used 
for the purpose when the plate was unluckily not forth- 
coming in Horsington Church. 

Square pews of all heights and sizes were common in that 
day. Often a brass rail rose above the wood-work, with a 
curtain which could be stretched upon it, and drawn during 
the sermon. 

This was convenient for those who wished to indulge in a 

The squire's pew was generally a private box, with a table 
in the middle, and even sometimes a fireplace, the poker and 
tongs of which would be rattled by the great man when he 
thought the sermon should come to an end. Bishop Wilber- 
force once said, when the clerk pointed out to him the con- 
venience of the arrangement, that nothing was wanting in 
such pews but a card table. 

Then there was an officer of those days connected with 
the church whose eccentricities were notorious. I mean the 
parish clerk. More stories are told about his quaint sayings 
than of anyone else. At one time he was a cleric in minor 
orders, commissioned to perform several sacred functions in 
the church, such as reading the epistle, and first lesson, accom- 
panying the parish priest when visiting the sick, sprinkling 


people at their daily work with the holy water blessed by the 
priest, carrying round the " holy loaf " at Easter to the houses 
of the people, and teaching the choristers and children in 
general. Though deprived of these offices after the Reforma- 
tion he was still an important and consequential personage. 

As one of the order once said : " Parson used to call me 
clerk, then he called me a virgin (verger), then a Christian 
(sacristan), and now he calls me clerk again. The name, 
Virgin Fisher, occurs in the old register of Midsomer Norton 
Church. This important person occupied the lowest box of 
the three-tiered rostrum which often stood out in the middle 
of the church, and where he often kept the most extraordinary 
collection of ecclesiastical rubbish possible. 

He was dressed in a long, high-collared black coat with 
brass buttons and flaps, and wore knee breeches of drab 
cloth and grey stockings with buckled shoes. His voice was 
nasal, and his pronunciation eccentric. His mistakes in 
reading were proverbial. An " alien " with him was " a 
lion." " That Leviathan " was " That leatherman." Ashes, 
" He feedeth on ashes," " Hashes." Carbuncles, crab ankles. 
Ananias, Azarias, and Misael were Ananius, Azarias, and 
Muzzle. Gebal, Ammon and Amaleck, Urball, Hammon and 
Almanack. Instead of saying " Woe is me that I am con- 
strained to dwell with Mesech," having rather an unfortunate 
experience with his wife, one clerk said instead, " Woe is me 
that I am constrained to dwell with Missus." Another 
gentleman had to give out the notices very often, and strangely 
indeed did he murder them. 

" There will be no service this afternoon as parson as had 
a haxident with his artful (artificial) teeth." Again, an 
apology for the parson's absence was given because as the 
clerk said, " He's hoff a-fishing in the next parish." He really 
meant officiating. 

Another clerk instead of saying " There will be temporary 
service in the schoolroom," said there would be a " trumpery " 

Another, when told to say there would be morning and 


evening service alternately, said instead, " There will be 
morning and evening service to eternity." Evidently he did 
not anticipate the possibility of disestablishment. 

The character of the country clergy has been a good deal 
maligned. Curious stories are often told of them and their 
love of sport, neglect of duty, and bad living. That many of 
them were sportsmen, and followed the hounds, is a perfectly 
true, but not altogether a bad thing, as it enabled them to 
mix with their people in innocent pastime and keep up a 
higher tone of decent language, besides preserving them from 
that wretched priggishness and pedantry which brings so 
many of the clergy into contempt. Some, no doubt, allowed 
their sports to interfere with the proper and devotional 
discharge of their religious duties, and created a scandal in 
the parish, which was altogether wrong. 

A story is told of the rector of a parish not far from 
Wincanton who, when he asked a Quaker, " Friend, which 
way did the hare go ? " was answered in these words, " Friend, 
I can't tell thee, but I know which way I should go if I were 
the hare, I should go to thy study, for he'd be safe enough 

Of course such a rebuke as this might have been well 
merited, but the men who thus neglected their duties were 
few and far between. By far the larger number, like the Rev. 
Jack Russell, so well known in Devonshire, though they 
joined the people in their sports, performed their services 
regularly, sympathised with the joys and sorrows of their 
people, set an example of temperance, justice and honesty, 
and passed away without a slur on their characters. 

Such men left no particular memorial behind them, and 
the good they did was forgotten, while the evil done by the 
few indifferent ones left its ill repute behind, and was quoted 
as though it characterized them all. But the clergy had 
many things to contend against, and could not help making 
many discontented and aggrieved parishioners. 

Amongst other things the collection of their tithes was 
no doubt a vexatious and inquisitoi ial method of payment. 


But it was no fault of the clergy. Taking it, as they were 
bound to in those days, in kind, not in money, much un- 
pleasantness was apt to arise. The whole system was shown 
up in a celebrated case which occurred in Holcombe Parish 
in 1734. Great objection was taken to the way in which Mr. 
Raikes, the rector, took his tithes, both as to their amount and 
their incidents. The matter was made the subject of an in- 
vestigation into the whole question of the tithes in this parish. 
The interrogatories on behalf of John Salmon, Esq., Samuel 
Paddle or Padwel (now Padfield), Thomas Dennen and Lord 
Clinton, were whether tithe of hay was paid in kind, whether 
any and what was the tithe of milk of each cow or heifer, or 
for each horse or mare pastured or kept in the said parish to 
carry coal or other carriage, or fruit or herbs of a garden, or for 
an orchard, or for eggs, or for a colt, or for offerings, what was 
the method of tithing calves or pigs. 

The witnesses said that a modus of twopence per acre 
was paid on mown land payable at Lammas. For tithe of 
milk each cow, twopence; each heifer three halfpence; a 
penny was due for the fruit or herbs of a garden. A penny 
for eggs and twopence a head for offerings — all at Easter. 
The custom for tithe of calves was to give one out of seven or 
ten. If there were more than ten, then 6d. each. If a calf 
were killed or sold to a butcher, sixpence was paid or the left 
shoulder given. For a calf weaned a halfpenny was paid. 
From seven or ten pigs also one was given. 

The tithe calf had to be kept until five weeks old, the tithe 
pig until three weeks, then the parson or his lessee was to fetch 
the same. 

For each horse or mare depastured or kept to carry coal 
or for carriage, sixpence. It was paid sometimes at Michael- 
mas, sometimes before, sometimes before it was due, as the 
parson came to demand it. 

Agistment paid twenty pence in the pound. (Agistment 
was the feeding of cattle in a common pasture for a stipulated 
price. The price of a horse agistment for the summer was 
3/4 in 1531.) For an orchard, 4d. 


About twenty years before the two orchards on Moore's 
farm were enclosed and planted, but their value the witness 
could not determine, for " that in some years they bear pretty 
many apples, and in others but few." 

" The orchard in Pitman's was planted about 35 years 
before on very poor Somerleaze or pasture ground, the profit 
one year with another had not been worth 5/- a year. The 
tithe of the land called Pitinhays, part of Holcombe Farm, 
always paid to the impropriator of Kilmersdon." 

The impropriator of Kilmersdon was, I suppose, the lay 
proprietor who obtained the proceeds of the property originally 
left to Buckland Priory. This is a typical illustration of the 
vexatious nature of the old system of small tithes, payable in 

Nothing could have detracted more from the efficiency 
and moral prestige of the parson than being thus mixed up in 
this vexatious business with his flock. 

It was a happy thing for the Church and its clergy 
when tithes in kind were commuted for a money payment, 
and still more when the whole sum was paid by the 
landlord instead of by the tenants of the soil. There 
is a tradition that in a parish, which I knew very well, 
the tithe payers conspired together to bring their dairy 
produce up to the rectory at the same time, and as there were 
not enough vessels at hand to receive the goods, they were 
spilt on the lawn. 

The great barns or granges, such as that at Bradford-on- 
Avon, where the tithe was received in kind, are still to be seen 
and often difficult to put to any useful purpose. Hard by is 
often found the pigeon-house, a rectorial privilege. The 
pigeons found plenty of grain all round the barns, and knew 
full well where else to go and find it. 

Another decided change which our parish registers reveal 
is seen in the frequent notices taken of national events. 
Frequent fast days are ordered for national calamities and 
thanksgiving days appointed for affairs of a propitious 



On each occasion special forms of prayer are provided 
and used in the churches. These entailed a considerable 
expense upon the parish. Such events as these were noticed : 
a fast was proclaimed for the earthquake at Lisbon ; another 
for the great tempest of 1702, which devastated the land and 
destroyed a great number of our ships, and which caused 
the death of Bishop Kidder, of Bath and Wells, and Mrs. 
Kidder, both killed in their bed in the palace. 

From 1793 to 1812 there were continual entries of pay- 
ments for forms of prayer for fast days, evidently intended to 
show the nation's concern for the political troubles and revo- 
lutions at home and abroad, for the wars we were engaged in, 
and the sad state of the king's health. The nation was 
supposed to have brought these things on by its sins, and 
pestilences and famines were attributed to the same 
cause. So, in 1746, a fast day was appointed for the disease 
and loss of cattle, and in 1833 f° r tne great prevalence of 
cholera which devastated many other parts of Europe, and 
had at last reached our coasts. Subsequently a special form 
of thanksgiving was ordered in consequence of its cessation. 

So, in 1747, we gratefully acknowledged the naval 
victory gained over the French by Admiral Hawke ; and in 
1817 the escape of the Prince Regent from the bullet of an 
assassin, when going to the House of Parliament. 

At Mells and Stoke Lane we find that the ringers were 
given cider and bread and cheese to keep the victory of Cul- 
loden in 1745 as a day of rejoicing, the House of Hanover being 
more popular in these western parts than that of the Stuarts. 
The peace of Ryswick in 1697, of Utrecht in 1713, and the 
battle of Blenheim in 1703, were all kept as a holiday in these 

Another beneficial effect of the Reformation is recorded 
in our parish registers. For the first time we find recognition 
of the Christian duty of helping other churches, and con- 
tributing generally to the wants of the needy and distressed. 

They are full of illustrations of help given to all sorts and 
conditions of men at home and abroad. This was done 


through the method of briefs, which were royal letters patent, 
authorising collections for charitable purposes which were 
read publicly in parish churches, when the amount collected 
and the object of the collection were entered in the register 

These briefs at last became so frequent as to be a regular 
infliction, and were gradually discontinued. 

Pepys in his diary says, " To church where we observe the 
trade in briefs is come now up to so constant a course every 
Sunday that we resolve to give no more to them." Briefs 
were issued even without authority by private persons, or 

Our neighbours at Mells seem to have been taxed with 
these appeals very frequently, but to have responded gener- 
ously. In 1682 4/- was collected for the redemption of 
captives from Turkish slavery. 

In 1694 a guinea was collected for French protestants — 
no doubt Huguenot, exiled after the Revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes by Louis XIV, when 50,000 came over here and 
introduced the silk and watch trade. 

Soldiers and hospitals were helped in 1665 to the amount 
of £2 9s. 6d. £2 was given to the tithing man at Babington 
for maimed soldiers. Hospital money is frequent. 

At North Curry money was collected for the town of 
Teignmouth in Devon, for the French landing, firing, and 
plundering the town, July 26th, 1690. Their charity ex- 
tended even as far as the Dukedom of Lithuania, where help 
was given by a brief for a hundred distressed Protestants. 
But the most liberal collection was for the sufferers from the fire 
of London, 1666, and the most sporting for the restoration of 
the Theatre Royal, London, by the parish church of Lough- 
borough. The custom of briefs was abolished in 1828, but 
Queen's letters were still granted during the reign of Queen 
Victoria, in aid of the Society for the Propagation of the 
Gospel and other kindred societies. 

Other local expenses were incurred from time to time and 
well responded to by the ratepayers. The cost of repairs of 


the church, the poor-houses, the stocks, guard house, and 
handcuffs were all charged for upon the rates. There were 
also continual monies paid to sailors on their way home from 
service, and to travelling men and women with passes and 

The old church at Holcombe was constantly being 
repaired, especially as to the roof. Its furniture and books 
were heavy items : £25 was spent upon two tables in 1817, 
made by Joseph Emery. This must have been the table of 
commandments and creed, but how could they have cost so 
much ? They were no doubt made of slate and gilded, but £25 
seems a very high charge. The same thing at Luccomb Church 
in 1818 cost £12 17s., including carriage. 

Anon we find other items, as, two prayer books for the 
parson in 1789, 19/-. And, in 1814, 6 guineas for the same 
purpose. Were they illuminated on vellum ? 

Then there was an item of 4 guineas for an iron chest, 
doubtless to keep the registers safely, but alas ! it failed to do 
so, as they were left in a very dilapidated state. Butts, that 
is, hassocks made at Axbridge, cost 12/-. 

Strictly speaking, by the 70th canon, the parish registers 
should be a parchment book kept in " sure coffer with three 
locks," of which the minister and each churchwarden was to 
keep a key. The oldest register books now extant are usually 
transcripts made in pursuance of the injunction of 1597 or 
1603 at the expense of the parish. 

John Padfield, whoever he was, brings in a bill for beer 
of 10/2. This, I expect, was drunk in the belfry. Work done 
at the pound cost 18/- in 1817, shortly after another 7/-, and 
later on another n/-. In 1807 £29 7s. 6d. was spent on the 
church roof, when Doulting stone was used. In 1846 a shilling 
in the pound was again levied to repair the church roof. 

The Holcombe Church evidently badly needed repair in 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, as we find the record of a special 
bequest for that purpose in the will of a Holcombe man of that 
period. In this will Jeames Perfecte, of Holcombe, Somerset, 
Husbandman, Feb. 39th of Elizabeth (A.D. 1597), desires to 


be buried in the Church of Holcombe, and gives to the repair 
of the said church, 6/8, and to the poor of Holcombe, 3/4. 

These sums we must remember represent only a twelfth 
part of their value in the present day. 

Ninety-three perches of wall for the churchyard cost 
£3/17/6, or 10/- per perch. In 1821 five days' digging cost 
only 7/6. Stone was carried at 6d. a load. 

The accounts were not always kept correctly. A sum of 
£4 was carried over from one account to the credit of the 
churchwardens when it should have been just the other way, 
and yet the accounts had been submitted to the vestry, and 
approved of by the signatures of the whole body. A sub- 
sequent note, years after, brings this to our notice as a 
scandalous error. 

The population of the village in 1812 was 227 males, 282 
females. A letter from Wells cost 9d., and from Nottingham, 
nd., and to London, 2/6, in 1810. 

The churchwardens and sidesmen in 1749 were : — 
W. H. Salmon, otherwise Dr. Salmon. 
Sydenham Poyntz. 
George Knight. 
John Prattent. 
Robert Curtis. 
John Morgan, Clerk. 

In 1774, William Morgan was churchwarden. 

In 1784, Edward Wallwyn. 

In 1810, John Parnell. 

In 1846, John Padfield and Emanuel Green and Robert 
Gain were overseers. 

There are no entries in our Holcombe Registers of church- 
wardens' accounts of payments made for the destruction of the 
various kinds of vermin which were debited to the parish. 
This outrageous charge had probably been discontinued by 
the date at which our present registers begin. Elsewhere we 
find abundant mention of these charges. Amongst the 
various animals for whose destruction and remains people 
received substantial fees, were polecats (or fetches), martens, 


otters (spelt auters and notters), kites, stoats, stares (starlings), 
and sparrows in any number, at per dozen, id. 

The fox, whose life is now-a-days held almost as sacred 
as the cow of India, was considered in England as a mere 
nuisance, and a useless kind of vermin. 

Oliver St. John told the Long Parliament that Strafford 
was to be regarded not as a stag to whom some law was to 
be given, but as a fox who was to be snared by all means, and 
knocked on the head without pity. In his day there were 
great massacres of foxes, to which the peasants thronged with 
all their dogs, and to shoot a female with cubs was considered 
a feat which merited the gratitude of the neighbourhood. 

This raid upon foxes was not to be wondered at in the 
days before fox-hunting became such a popular pursuit in the 
country-side, and even since that time the complaints of 
poultry farmers are to some extent justified. Isio doubt com- 
pensation for loss by foxes has always been given by Masters 
of Hunts ; and when given to people who were benefiting in 
several ways by the presence of the hunt in their midst, the 
latter could not reasonably complaii if this compensation 
was only on a moderate scale. A story is told of one such 
claimant for compensation, who sent the following bill to a 
well-known and esteemed master of a southern hunt. It ran 
thus : — " To one hen turkey sitting on 12 eggs awaiting the 

generosity of " (the name of the Master). His remark on 

receiving this was characteristic and laconic : " She will have 
to sit there a long time." 

But the church was not the only place of worship in the 
village ; from 1774 there was a Wesley an Methodist Chapel 
here. Several things, no doubt, caused this chapel to be 
built. For one thing, the site of the old church was incon- 
venient to the people living on the hill. Also the mining 
population which had sprung up preferred a less formal and 
conventional style of service than was provided at the church. 
Wesley's influence also drew many away by his fervency and 
zeal. He came over from Coleford in 1745 and preached at 
Holcombe.. An old pollard tree below King's Ground has been 


pointed out as the site of his first open-air services. Wesley 
would never have adopted the line he did had the authorities 
given him the ordinary latitude of disciplire which is accorded 
to all priests of the Church at the present day. His example 
and preaching were the means of reclaiming many profligates, 
and raising the moral and spiritual tone of the people. Among 
others he reclaimed a member of the Salmon family whom he 
found leading a life of profligacy, and brought him to a sense 
of his sin. This gentleman, we are told, gambled away an 
important estate in this immediate neighbourhood, now the 
property of Lord Hylton, in one night at Crockford's Club in 
London. The Salmon family evidently felt indebted to 
Wesley for his beneficial influence upon their relative, and 
promoted the building of the first Wesleyan chapel in the 

Mr. John Salmon first granted a site, and Mr. J. E. 
Salmon afterwards subscribed largely to th^ building fund of 
the new chapel. The people also gave largely to the same 
fund. The first meeting-house was built here in 1774, upon 
the site of the old village green, where the cock-fighting and 
other Sunday sports had taken place in former days. 

The present large building was erected in i860, and is now 
free from debt ; great and self-sacrificing efforts having been 
made to clear it. 

Any unprejudiced person must confess that the dissenters 
have done a good work at Holcombe, as a more generally moral 
and sober lot of people could not be found in any village. 
There are stories, of course, of fanaticism and eccentricity 
connected with the movement, as with all others of the kind. 
We read, for instance, that one man attending a prayer 
meeting was suddenly moved by the Spirit to fling his chair 
up to the ceiling and shout, " Uncle Moses, I'm saved, I'm 

But there will always be some extravagance connected 
with such revivalist movements, and we must not judge of 
their value by the eccentricity of a few, but by the steady 
conduct of the general body. 



The new church upon the hill was consecrated upon 
July 18th, 1885, by Lord Arthur Hervey, Bishop of Bath and 
Wells. There was a difficulty about a site, which the writer 
was glad to be able to solve. 

The organ was dedicated on September 15th, 1891. The 
Rev. W. E. Whitaker was rector of the parish. A vestry was 
built in 1906 by the Rev. John Coleman in memory of his 
father and mother. 

Stained glass windows have been placed to the memory 
of the late Robert Ashman Green, of Flint House; George 
Walters, pit owner; and the Rev. Edward Harston, M.A., a 
former rector. 

The old church is now used for burial services. The 
interior is interesting as a relic of the bad taste of an age 
which delighted in drab and whitewash to the effacement of 
all artistic work and mediaeval furniture. (Plate XXI.) 
Happily the old oak door, with its large hinges and lock, 
has withstood these ravages, and still stands, together with 
the Norman font (now transplanted to the present church), as 
monuments of the earliest race, whose lords were proprietors 
of the Manor, and of the Abbey of Keynsham, the probable 
restorers^of the fabric. 

The list of the Rectors and Patrons is as follows : — 

Date of 

Institution. Rector. 


1344 Thomas atte Castle . . 

Keynsham Abbey 

1348 William Chaywe 

Walter de Stowe 

1362 John de Sitteneye 

1439 William Ruggevale 

. . On collation of 


1440 John Brys 

1459 Walter Osborn 

. . On collation of 


1469 Clement Ricards 

Richard Philipps 

1490 William Hancok 

1501 John Hampton, B.A. 




religion. 377 


Thomas Berkeley 


John Corse 


Richard Gilcaste 


James Knocke. . 
Edmund Cursye 


Francis Dukane 

. . Thomas Horner, Esq. 


John Sheen, M.A. 

. . John Horner, Esq. 


John Weeks 

. . John Kyngman, of 
Doulting, patron- 
age ceded by John 


Ralph Gregson 

. . John Horner (miles) 


John Dashfield, M.A. 

. . King Charles I 


William Legg . . 

. . George Horner (miles) 
of Cloford 


Thomas Furse 

. . George Horner 


William Durman, B.A. 

. . George Horner, Esq. 


Samuel Moreton, M.A. 

. . George Horner, Esq. 


George Bampton, B.A. 

. . Thomas Strangeways 
Horner, Esq. 


John Rake, B.A. 

. . Thomas S. Horner, 


John Bishop, M.A. 

. . Thomas Horner 


Thomas Tordiffe, B.A. 

. . John Dory Greenhill, 
Esq., of Ston Easton 


Charles Wayland, M.A 

. . John Twyford Jolliffe, 


Edward Harston, M.A 

Rev. Thomas Robert 


Thomas George Harwood, M.A. Rev. T. R. Jolliffe 


Henry Sidebottom, M.A. . . On collation of the 



Walter Eugene Whitaker, B.A. Lord Hylton 


John James Coleman, 

M.A. . . Lord Hylton 


John James Coleman, 

M.A. . . The Bishop by lapse 

Chapter XVI. 


THE history of the manorial system, which, starting 
from Saxon times, lasted through the middle ages 
into modern days, and still survives in some of its 
incidental rights and dues, is a subject well worthy of our 
consideration. The question is, how did it arise ? This has 
been, and still is, in some sense, a moot point. Mr. F. See- 
bohm, for instance, in his most interesting treatise upon the 
English village community, traces its origin back to the 
earliest times, and says that it was imported from Rome, and 
based upon a system of servile organisation. The Roman 
villa, he says, presents all the chief features of the mediaeval 

On the other hand Professor Vinogradoff takes quite an 
opposite view. This eminent scholar considers that the 
feudal manor was gradually developed out of the village 
commune, and that the manorial system was super-imposed 
on the communal and not the foundation of it. This theory 
seems to be in accordance with facts and probability. Nothing 
seems more natural and probable than that the manorial 
system sprang out of the wants, weaknesses, and dependence 
of a free community. Equality of tenure, and collective 
proprietorship, could not last for ever. The weaker, physi- 
cally and mentally, the less affluent and capable, must sooner 
or later go to the wall. The more virile and clever, and, in 
those early days, the stronger, would rise above them and 
shoulder them out. So the headman and chiefs and leaders 
of the community would begin to usurp the territory, and 
lord it over their inferiors. 

If any office happened to descend from father to son, the 
first step would be taken towards the rise of an aristocratic 
class. The military followers, too, of the petty kings of the 
Saxon heptarchy, would, no doubt, become a privileged order, 




and be relieved from the burden of agricultural labour. 
Besides this, the necessity of private protection would in- 
evitably follow from the insufficiency of the central power, 
and protection would entail submission. 

We seem, also, to see the traces of an intermediate stage be- 
tween communal and manorial proprietorship, and the gradual 
development from the one into the other. For instance, as 
Vinogradoff says, we find the feudal lord holding land inter- 
mixed with the strips of the peasantry. This is his demesne 
land, which was granted for his military and official services, 
but which had not yet been separated entirely from the public 

Holcombe Manor House. 

Reproduced.byldnd permission, from the Proceedings of the Somt. Arch. Soc, vol. xxx, 1884. 

land and enclosed in a ring fence. " Instead of the villeins 
helping him by tilling this demesne land in bulk, and being 
allowed to turn to their own profits the other portion of the 
soil which they cultivated in common, instead of this they 
will cultivate these strips of the lord after they have run the 
plough and harrow over their own strips. They will do it of 
their own accord instead of being called upon to do so under 
the supervision of the lord's bailiff to do work on his inde- 
pendent estate. This is an intermediate stage between the 
tribute paid by a practically independent community and the 
double husbandry of the lord's home-farm and their own 
intermixed holdings." We have survivals of this kind of 


property on the lord's part, and work upon it on the peasant 
part, in the mention we find in field names of lord's piece, such 
as the field of that name in Stratton-on-the-Fosse. 

Again we find a curious custom called the " Farm for 
one night," the Firma unius noctis of the Domesday 
schedule. The origin of this dates from such time as the 
lord, without making any portion of the soil particularly his 
own, would come or send to a district or township, to levy 
the tributes imposed, and would receive it in kind and not in 
money. Similar customs are found among many other 
nations in the same stage of development, as, for instance* 
among the Scandinavian folk, a chieftain comes with his 
retinue to feast on his subjects for a certain number of nights 
and days ; and a temporary house is erected for him if he 
does not take up his quarters in some headman's farm, and 
provisions are found for him, his men, horses and dogs, or 
they are quartered and feasted by other local people. 

This is the first stage in which the custom of the feorm 
or farm (=food) tribute is found. The " farm " was ori- 
ginally only the depot where food was stored against the 
arrival of the lord. 

Then from this came the system of the supply of the 
lord's house or castle with provisions, laid by in store for him 
whenever he visited his home, by a village community, which 
rendered this tribute instead of performing work on the 
demesne. " One cannot help thinking," says Vinogradoff, 
" that such a practice must have come from the very earliest 
days when the Saxon or Celtic chieftain got his income from 
the territory under his sway, by moving from one place to 
another, and feeding on the people for a certain period." As 
a matter of fact the system of food tribute or Gwesta in early 
Welsh history very much resembled this, and may be looked 
upon as its parent, but, as the professor goes on to say, " this 
very primitive mode of raising income and consuming it at 
the same time may occasionally strike our eye, even in the 
middle of the 13th century. For instance, the tenants 
of the Abbot of Osulverston, in the County of Durham, 


were bound to receive their lord during one night and 
one day when he comes to hold his court in their place 
and to find the necessary food and beverage for him 
and for his men, with provender for his horses, and so 
forth." This custom prevailed largely in Saxon times. A 
night's entertainment for themselves, their servants, horses 
and dogs and whole retinue, was demanded by kings from the 
tenants of the township or manors along which their hunting 
progresses lay. In fact, as Mr. Gresswell says, " we can almost 
trace the progress of the Saxon kings through this county 
(Somerset) by noticing the various places on the route where 
the manorial tenants were bound to supply them with this 
night's entertainment and lodging. The line of progress would 
proceed from Milborne Port to Bruton, thence to Frome, in 
the vicinity of Selwood, thence to Axbridge and Somerton, 
and still further down into the west by North Curry and 
Petherton Park to Taunton and Porlock. In a charter of 
904, granted by Edward the Elder to the Priory of Taunton, 
it appears that among other customary duties due to the 
king from the monks was "'ftastus unius noctis" that is, 
board and lodging for the king for one night, the same for 
eight dogs, and their keeper for nine nights, and to the king's 
falconer, etc. 

In " Domesday " we find that the king claimed "Firtna 
unius noctis," a night's hospitality for himself and his retinue 
in Calne, Ambresbury, Chippenham, and Warminster. The 
uniform tax in lieu of this was £13 8s. 4d. in white (silver) 

This very ancient custom existed, we find, and survived 
into the 17th and 18th centuries. This hospitality was ex- 
tended by Sir James Thynne, Lord of the Royal Manor of 
Warminster, to King Charles II in 1663, and by Viscount 
Weymouth, at Longleat, to King George III on September 13, 

In a deed of this Manor, dated 1664, granting a renewal 
of the lease of Holcombe Farm by Mr. Arthur Fortescue to 
William Moore, a special stipulation is made, that food and 


drink for him and his men, and provender for his horses, 
should be provided whenever he visited the Manor. 

Akin to this custom was that which was prevalent amongst 
the great churchmen of early days. The Archbishop of Can- 
terbury regularly migrated from one of his manors to another, 
to maintain himself, his retainers and servants, upon the 
produce of his farms and the game in his preserves. So we 
find that Archbishop Islip used to visit his palace at Mayfield, 
in Sussex, and there remain till he had exhausted the produce 
of the farms upon that estate. 

The practice also, though it may seem incredible, existed, 
it is said, of Archdeacons going upon their visitation tours 
with a pack of hounds, which they quartered upon the un- 
fortunate clergy and churchwardens whom they visited. 
These primeval usages of absenteeism passed away, and the 
Lords of Manors settled down upon their domains, and 
cultivated their home farms, by the labour of the hinds and 
villeins of the village. This domain was granted to them out 
of the Folkland, or unappropriated land, by the King and the 
Witan as a reward for their services, and they often rewarded 
their followers by granting them free holdings carved out of 
it, upon like terms of service to those which they themselves 
paid the King their lord. In fact they enfeoffed them, or 
granted them the estate in fee, reserving only certain nominal 
services, and requiring them to render their homage at the 
Manor Court. Meanwhile they also acquired a further hold 
on the tillers of the open fields in the village, and a substantial 
interest in their services. The peasants lost their full liberty 
to till the lands for themselves only, and had to work for the 
lord on certain specified days upon his home farm. They also 
had to render him service at odd times, such as the harvest. 

These services were given to the lord partly in return for 
his patronage and protection, but still more for his sub- 
stantial assistance ; for as time went on, and the old hand- 
ploughs were found ineffectual for the work of breaking up 
the clods, ploughs with iron shares, and oxen, had to be 
provided, and by whom more naturally than by the Lord of 


the Manor ? So he lent them the needful plant, and all 
kinds of implements, and beasts, with which to till their 
acres. It was only a loan, and reverted to the lord on the 
tenant's death. But he was satisfied to accept the best 
thing left, be it plough or ox or horse, or any other valuable 
chattel. Here we come upon that common custom called the 
" Heriot," which we shall read of afterwards, and which was 
a bounden due owing to the lord, and was commuted in after 
days for a money payment. 

So the village commune bartered away its freedom and 
rivetted upon its neck the yoke of bondage. The free tenant 
became the villein or serf, whose status was that of " base 
service," as it was called, in contradistinction to military, or 
free service, and his lot became more and more trying up to 
the end of the 12th century. Even after that, for a long 
period, it was by no means enviable. Still, all along, we find 
the semblance at least of the communal tenure, and the 
village authorities still maintained, at least in theory, their 
rights and privileges as against any capricious changes and 
unprecedented exactions of the lord. While the lord chose 
the bailiff or steward, the people elected their reeve. The 
reeve and his four companions attended the hundred court, as 
the representatives and jurors of the village community. 
The steward was not the only judge of the " Halimot," or 
court held in the lord's hall. The judgment came from the 
whole court, and the suitors without distinction of class were 
necessarily its judicial assessors, and special officers, 
called " afferers," assessed the amount of the fines to be 

So everything points to the fact that the manorial 
element was super-imposed upon the communal rather than 
the reverse, and that from first to last the manorial system 
sprang out of the loins of a free community, from which by 
degrees it obtained its rights and prerogatives in return for 
services, protection, and pecuniary help. 

But it was never allowed to usurp the authority entrusted 
to it, or to assert anything like an absolute autocracy, because 


ever side by side with it the village community existed, made 
its voice heard, and kept it in check. 

This, then, seems to have been the origin of the manorial 
system. It is found in Saxon times, though not in such force 
as after the Norman conquest. But the germs and principles 
were already well rooted and established in the land. The 
lord in Saxon days was called the Hlaford or Theyn. 

We call to mind the thane of Cawdor and the thane of 
Fife. The thane was first and foremost a soldier, and only a 
landlord in a secondary sense. The very word thane implies 
this. In translating the story of the centurion who had 
soldiers under him, the Saxon Gospel makes him say, " I have 
thanes (soldiers) under me." He had to serve in the fyrd or 
militia of the country, and to accompany the King on his 
military expeditions, besides other civic duties of aiding in the 
building of the King's castles and maintaining the bridges of 
the district. 

For these services five hides — 600 acres of land — were 
allotted him, which he farmed with the help of his retainers 
and the servants and tenants of the manor. He must not 
absent himself from his manor without having made due 
provision for its cultivation. Under him was the Franklyn, 
also called Vavasour, or Esquire, who followed him to war in 
a military capacity, and who afterwards became the regular 
representative of the small landed proprietor or squire of the 
present day. Camden observes that the name of Esquire, 
which in ancient times was a name of charge and office, did 
not become a title of dignity till Richard II's reign. Spelman 
dates its general use from James I's reign. So also says 
Fuller, who also assigns the name of yeoman to Henry VIII's 

The labouring people upon the manor were divided into 
four classes, the Geneats, Geburs, Cottiers, and Theows or 

The distinction between the first two classes was small. 
It consisted chiefly in the fact that while the former paid 
tribute or rent called Gafol, and acted mostly in the capacity 


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of under officers riding on messages and attending upon the 
thane, the latter were bound to work upon the demesne land 
as well as upon their own, and to pay rent in kind, though they 
were exempt from the heavier and more personal tribute 
called, as we have seen, the Gafol. The word tribute is 
rendered " gafol " in the Saxon Gospel, " Gilt he Gafol " 
being the terms used for "Does your master pay tribute ? " 
The land which these Geburs tilled was called Geserte land, or 
land let out to tenants. So again, in the parable of the vine- 
yard, the Saxon Gospel makes the Lord of the Vineyard 
" gesette " it out to husbandmen before he departs into the 
far country. 

The Gebur had his outfit provided for him, which was 
called his Stuht (modern Stud), and consisted of a yardland, 
or 30 acres, to till, two oxen, one cow, six sheep, tools and 
utensils for his house, and seed enough to sow seven 

The Cottier, or Cotsetle, was free from the payment of 
the tribute or gafol, but paid hearth-penny and church scot 
at Martinmas. The nature of his work was the ordinary 
work of the geneat as required by his lord from time to time. 
The Cottiers held plots of about five acres each, and had to 
work one day, usually Monday, in the week for their small 
tenements. They are expressly stated to be personally 

No doubt this class furnished in after days the hired 
labourers who became so necessary to the landlord after the 
bondage tillers of the soil were no longer available for the 

The theows or slaves were probably the remnants of the 
old conquered Celts. They could be bought and sold with 
the stock on the farm, and did all the menial work upon the 
lord's demesne. 

Two or three subsidiary class names of the folk include 
the Etheling Ethel or Edel, that is, the man of royal or noble 
birth ; the Ceorl or Carl, that is, the free tenant of the manor, 
once the antithesis of the Eorl or Earl, the only two classes 



of the invading host, and the Wealh or free and allied Welsh- 
man allowed to sojourn in the land and occupy the various 
cities of refuge and neutral zones of territory in the midst of 
the dominant people. 

The herd and hind represented the lower class of labourer, 
of whom little account was taken. 

The manor, that is, the private estate with a village 
community in this condition of compulsory service and tribute, 
was called a ham or tun. 

There was another very ancient and marked distinction 
of land in those days, the " folk " land and the " boc " land. 
The folk land was land which originally belonged to the 
people, having consisted of the clearings which, on the first 
conquests, were made in the forests and allotted to the 
followers of the leader or chief ; it answered to the ager 
publicus of the Romans. Macaulay alludes to this in " The 
Lays of Ancient Rome." 

" They gave him of the corn -land 
That was of public right, 
As much as two strong oxen 
Could plough from morn till night." 

These lines have been well parodied in some Oxford 
verses, written about a varsity man who determined to get 
his degree in spite of many failures, and eventually succeeded. 
The lines are : — 

" They gave him his testamur, 
Such was a passman's right ; 
He was more than three examiners 
Could plough from morn till night." 

So it was in the early days of Saxon conquest, but as the 
kingly power developed and the people gave the land more 
and more into the hands of their protectors and patrons the 
folk land lapsed into the hands of the king, who used it to 
reward his obedient followers, who formed his regular army. 
He had to consult the Witan or great council of the nation to 
make his grants legal, and when it was thus granted, it was 


said to be booked to the grantee and so was called bocland, or 
booked land. 

As time went on, more of the folk land became bocland, 
or land booked to private people or corporations, as, for 
instance, to the Knights Templars, and other monastic 
bodies. The historian Bede protests against this excessive 
alienation of the land to religious bodies, because they did 
not use it for its proper purpose, namely, the defence of the 

We have two places in our neighbourhood which seem to 
illustrate this ancient distinction between land that was 
originally public and that which had come into private hands, 
namely, " Falkland," near Kilmersdon, anciently called 
Folkland, and Buckland, also called Bocland. 

To return to an interesting feature of the future manorial 
system foreshadowed in Saxon days, i.e., the heriot. Every 
thane provided his tenant with his outfit, in order that he 
might cultivate the land he granted him in the open 
fields. This would consist of two oxen, a plough and 

On the death of the tenant this outfit reverted to the 
lord. In later days only the best thing left, as the horse or 
ox or plough, or even utensil or garment was required to be 
given up as a heriot. We happen to know that the amount 
of this heriot due to the lord from a villein renting 30 acres 
was 6/-, or the current value of a cow, for an entry in the 
Bishop's Manor Court at Wells runs thus : " 6/-, price of 1 
cow de heriett, Johannes Kynge." This would be £4 at least 
in present values. 

The earliest form of this heriot in classic times was the 
reversion to the chief of the horse and its trappings on which 
his follower had gone into battle for him and never returned 

Later, the heriot was commuted for a money payment, 
but the ancient right has been occasionally claimed in modern 
times. The race-horse, Smollensko, valued at over two 
thousand pounds^ was unsuccessfully claimed as a heriot by 


the Lord of the Manor of Wilkes Park, Essex, on the death of 
Sir John T. C. Bunbury, of Mildenhall, Suffolk, a copyhold 
tenant. The Pitt Diamond, we are also told by Mr. Hone, 
was the subject of a like demand. And another copyhold 
tenant, Sir R. Peel, had to buy a Manor lest he should be 
called upon to surrender a famous painting by Rubens, " Le 
Chapeau de Paile," of which he was the possessor, now in the 
National Gallery. 

The heriots paid to the Lord of the Manor of Holcombe 
by the customary tenants before 1734 were of a substantial 

James Ruddock for his small farm tenements paid the 
best beast, or 53/-. George Knight for 24 acres paid the best 
beast, or 40/-. 

In the new leases made after 1734, when the Manor 
changed hands, the small tenements on Holcombe Hill were 
subject to a heriot, varying from 2/6 to 10/-. 

Another manorial perquisite was the merchet, a fee 
payable by a father or guardian on the marriage of his daughter 
or ward. This was a claim dating from very early days, and 
supposed to be a composition for a very iniquitous and 
scandalous right of the chief or lord called maiden rent, or 
Jus primcB noctis. 

Then there was the toll taken at a market or fair for 
breaking ground for standing room, which brought in a 
substantial sum to many Lords of Manors. This toll was 
paid in the Manor of Holcombe up to the year 1817. 

Some had also the right of gallows and of hanging offenders 
both inside and outside the Manor. 

Another perquisite of the lord was called a relief ; this was 
due upon a new tenant taking the estate or farm of his ancestor 
according to the custom of the manor, and was generally a 
year's rent. 

We find that the relief paid upon Moore's Farm in the 
17th century amounted to £36 10s. 

Again there was the toll or fee for the pound. The 
pound was of immemorial antiquity. Sir Henry Maine tells 



us that there is no more ancient institution in the country 
than the village pound ; that it is far older than the King's 
Bench and probably older than the kingdom. The keeper of 
the pound was called the pindar, and he generally held 
several acres in the common field as a reward for his services, 
and was given corn, hens and eggs. He had to be an ex- 
ceptionally strong, active, and vigilant man. The pound was 
called the pinfold. There is a keeper of the " pinfold " at 
Alnwick, and a pindar is found in nine other boroughs. The 
pindar of Wakefield was celebrated in the " Robin Hood 
Ballads." A snatch of a popular ballad ran thus : — 

" In Wakefield there was a jolly pindar, 
In Wakefield all in a green." 

Pounds exist still even on Putney and Wimbledon Com- 
mons. The pound is now almost the only visible relic of the 
early days of Holcombe and its Manor. 

Shakespeare plays with the word " pinfold " in his " Two 
Gentlemen of Verona," as follows : — 

Proteus. Nay: in that you are astray, 'twere best pound you. 

Speed. Nay, Sir, less than a pound shall serve me for carrying your 

Proteus. You mistake ; I mean the pound, — a pinfold. 
Speed. From a pound to a pin? fold it over and over. 

Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to your lover. 

The right to bake all the tenants' bread in the manor 
bakehouse was also a perquisite upon some manors. 

But the customary right of the " milling soke " was much 
more universal. The mill, whether for fulling cloth or grinding 
corn, was a feature of every estate, and was generally farmed 
out by the lord, the miller taking his toll of the tenants, upon 
whom it was compulsory to bring their grain to be ground 

The mill was worked by water wherever there was a 
stream of sufficient volume upon the property, and if not, 
then by wind power if that was available, and failing both 
sources of power, then by horse power. 


The tenants often possessedjhand mills, and rather 
resented the hardship of having to pay a fee to the miller for 
grinding their grain for them. 

In the 13th century the use of hand mills was gradually 
suppressed in the interest of the lord, who received a larger 
return from the farm of the mill, than from any other source of 
revenue. A penalty of a mark was inflicted in early days for 
carrying corn out of the town to be ground elsewhere than at 
the lord's mill. This was increased to £5 in 1546. 

The miller, it was said, must have his share — the 13th 
part for grain, the 24th part for malt. Here at Holcombe 
there must have been at least two water mills, as two streams 
water the parish, fed from the water-shed of the Mendip Hills. 

The site of the Old Mill at Edford is still distinctly visible 
on the stream in the woods above the present hamlet, where 
the principal houses of the old village stood. 

The chief item of cost connected with these mills was the 
mill-stones. These were imported generally from abroad, and 
bought at the nearest available port — London, Bristol, 
Plymouth, or Hull. Professor Rogers gives us in his " Six 
Centuries of Work and Wages " a most interesting account of 
the journey of Oldham, the bailiff of Cuxham, in Oxfordshire, 
to London, for the purchase of mill-stones for that Manor. 
The story of his sojourn at the London hostelry, his ex- 
periences at the wharf, his chaffering, bargaining with, and 
treating of the merchants is as good as a play. His ex- 
penses are all put down, and give us a good idea of the diffi- 
culties and hindrances to trafficking occasioned by all the 
tippings and tolls and duties which were exacted. The wine 
bill, however, seems moderate considering the amount drunk. 
The journey took three days, but now could be accomplished, 
business and all, within the day. 

There seems to have been a regular " Octroi " duty 
charged upon all goods which passed through any town gates. 
It was called murage, which meant wall-repair, and was paid 
at London and Mayden-head, called Mayden-church, by the 
unfortunate purchasers. 


The bill was as follows : — 


5 stones, each £3 3s. 40I; 

Luck or bargain money (Argentum Dei) 

5 gallons of wine for drink (Pourboire) 

Loading in a ship in London . . 


Murage (City gate) 

London to Henley, carriage for 

Murage at Maiden Church . . 

Horse hire 

Expences 3 men boring stones at Henley 

Iron and steel bought for Giles to bore stones 

Two hoops to carry stones to Oxford 
Smith's work 

Multiply by 12 for present value 






















£17 13 o 


£211 16 O 

Our earliest ancestors managed, though in a rough way, 
to dispense with all this trouble and cost. 

The Neolithic folk used a large rough block of stone, 
hollowed out in the centre, with a kind of pestle consisting of a 
round and smaller stone, which they pressed round and round 
with both hands and all their weight. 

David Livingstone found the natives of Africa still using 
the same rough saddle, " quern " as it was called, and con- 
siders that it was with just such an appliance that Sarah 
ground the meal which Abraham, her lord, required at 
almost a moment's notice for the cakes wherewith he would 
refresh his three unknown and august visitors. 

We found such a grinding apparatus in the barrow on 
Charmborough Hill. 

The Miller, called in Latin Molindar, and in Anglo-Saxon 


the Milleward, later Millard, was a very important person on 
the Manor, and probably in the abundance of his means, next 
to the lord and parson, the most important in the village. 

But he had the reputation of being a sour-tempered bully, 
and not over-scrupulous in his dealings with others. His 
surly character is portrayed in the well-known lines : — 
" There was a jolly miller once, 
Lived on the river Dee ; 
He worked and sung, from morn till night; 

No lark more blythe than he. 
And this the burthen of his song, 

For ever used to be — 
I care for nobody, no, not I, 
If no one cares for me." 

Chaucer also sings of his uncouthness, uncomeliness, 
bullying propensities, as well as of his strength of body and 
stoutness of limb. 

Such, then, were the chief customs and classes of the 
Manors in Saxon days. After the conquest some of these 
classes seem to have gradually been amalgamated, or to have 
sunk out of notice. 

The slaves, of whom there were 25,000 in Domesday, 
mostly in the west, are heard of no more after a century or two. 
The practices of serfdom did not cease, the villein class hitherto 
represented by the Geneats and Geburs, generally coming to 
be designated as serfs, and being subjected to many characteris- 
tic traits of bondage, till such time as their bond services were 
commuted into rent payments, and their precarious and 
arbitrary nature was changed by being fixed and regulated by 
customary law or copy of court roll. 

The Cottier, however, remained on the land as before, and 
his services were but little altered. 

Under the Normans a new class, the Bordars, came in, 
who occupied smaller holdings than the villeins, which, with- 
out being mere cottages, did not amount to full shares in the 
fields. Their tenement was called a croft or toft, and they 
had probably to supply the lord's table with the products of 
their dairy, piggery, and fowl-yard. 


The Thane or Hlaford became the lord of the manor. The 
Han or Tun became the ville. The Ceorl gradually dis- 
appeared, and the freemen took his place. The Conqueror 
insisted that no land should be held except under a lord, but 
he made little alteration in the system of land tenure. The 
constitution of the Manor remained much the same, only 
under altered names and titles. 

There were several conditions upon which, in Norman 
times, Manors were held. One was to serve the king, or the 
superior lord under him, in war. Another was to keep up the 
bridges and roads, and a third was to maintain the fortresses 
of the kingdom. Besides this there were certain symbolic 
services often of a quaint nature which these vassals owed to 
their lord, especially to their lord the king. They might 
consist of personal military services, as for instance, to follow 
the king with a coat of mail, a horse and sack to carry weapons 
in the wars in Wales, which kind of service was common till 
the end of the 13th century, when Wales was thoroughly 
conquered and pacified. Or they might be various whimsical 
and quaint nominal services, as, for instance, a material gift 
as a kind of acknowledgment, such as a rose, a sparrow-hawk, 
a pound of pepper, a capon, a falcon, dog, a wax light for the 
Abbot's church, a mess of pottage for the king's table, a pair 
of gloves furred with fox's skin, a pot of honey, or six barbed 
arrows. Often they consisted of services rendered, of a 
nominal and fanciful kind, such as to hold the king's stirrup 
when he mounted his horse, to furnish him with a carriage on 
land, or a boat upon the water, to lift up the right hand towards 
the king at Christmas time, or to act as his forester when he 
went out hunting, or to keep the king's laundresses in the 
court of the king when he travelled about to his various 
manors, or even to hold the king's head between his hands 
when he crossed the sea and might feel ill. 

A very curious bit of romance must have originated the 
following ancient tenure. In the village of Kingston Russell 
in Dorsetshire, Nicola, wife of Nicholas de Morteshoe, held her 
manor for life upon the service of counting the king's chess- 


men, and putting them into the box when the king had done 
playing with them. Edward I was the king in question, and 
we feel he must have been a good deal smitten by the lady's 
beauty and good manners to have given so great a recompense 
for so slight a service. But as the narrator, Sir F. Treves, says, 
the king was a man of his word, whose favourite motto was 
" Pactum Serva " (keep faith), and so the king's town amongst 
the Dorset Hills became the lady's fief for ever. 

Again, there was a very curious service by which the 
Manor of Broughton, near Brig in Lincolnshire, was held, 
called the Gad- whip Service. It was rendered at Caistor 
Church, and the ceremony was as follows : — On Palm Sunday 
a man came from Broughton to Caistor with a whip in his 
hand, which he cracked three times in the church, while the 
minister was reading the first lesson, and then folding it neatly 
up, retired to a seat. At the commencement of the second 
lesson he approached the minister, and kneeling opposite to 
him with the whip in his hand and a purse at the end of it, held 
perpendicularly over his head, waved it thrice and continued 
it in a steadfast position throughout the whole of the chapter. 
This closed the ceremony. The leathern purse at the end of 
the whip ought to contain 30 pieces of silver, said to represent, 
according to Scripture, the price of blood. 

The three distinct cracks are supposed to have been 
typical of Peter's denial of Christ three times, and the waving 
it over the minister's head, as an act of homage to the blessed 

Some of these services are still performed at the Coronation 
by the descendants of those who anciently enjoyed the honour. 

The services and obligations and laws relating to the 
villeins and serfs were laid down in the Manor Rolls and 
interpreted in the Manor Courts. 

At first there was only one Court, the " Halimot " — the 
Lord's Hall-court ; afterwards this was divided into three — 
The Court Leet, the Court Baron, and the Customary Court. 

The Halemot was no doubt the survival of the older folk 
moot, which was generally held in the open air on some raised 


mound or some fair green on the side of a hill, or under a large 
tree, or beside some ancient tumulus. 

In addition to the oath of fealty the free tenant was 
called upon to do homage to his lord : humbly kneeling and 
holding up his hands together between those of his lord he 
professed, that " he did become his man from that day forth, 
of life and limb and earthly honour," and then he received a 
kiss from his lord, a ceremony which still forms part of the 
English coronation service. 

The Court Leet was strictly a King's Court, held twice a 
year by the sheriff at his hundred court or tourn, to which 
four representatives from each tithing under the Reeve were 
cited, and where the view of Frankpledge was held. 

According to this, every male above the age of twelve, 
free or unfree, should be in tithing, so that he should have 
pledges for good conduct and keeping the peace, as the 
members of the tithing were mutually responsible for each 
other's conduct. Exception was made in the case of persons 
who had that which was a sufficient security in itself, as land 
or rank, or who were in the household of some man who was 
himself responsible for them. This was termed being in the 
mainpast of so and so. Robert Tresor (Treasur, of Chelwood), 
for instance, was amerced because a certain Nicholas Copin 
was in his mainpast, and managed to evade the law. 

But from an early period the Crown had delegated this 
power of holding a Court Leet to the lords of manors for 
holding a court of criminal jurisdiction, in which infringe- 
ments of the common law not grave enough to be brought 
before the superior courts could be dealt with. 

The Manor Court Leet was held twice a year, and was 
something like our local police courts, being held for the trial 
of such offences as were not serious enough to be taken to the 
county court or assize. 

The steward of the manor was the judge sitting on behalf 
of the lord. 

Offences connected with the cultivation of the land and 
infringement of the local bye-laws were tried and punished in 


the sheriff's court or tourn as it was called ; this was the 
hundred court. 

Our people at Holcombe had to go to Modbury Down, 
near Babbington, where the hundred court of Kilmersdon was 
held in the open air as late as 1554. 

At this hundred court the tything men of each tything 
had to appear and to bring with them a certain number of 
able and fit persons, generally four, to serve as jurymen, and 
upon default, the tything man was fined, and if the court or 
tourn was not held, the tything man was to pay 2d., a kind 
of conscience money, called essoyne money, and id. for each 
of his four jurymen. These jurymen were called posts. Our 
Holcombe tything man was found, by an enquiry made in 1282, 
to have been taken away from Kilmersdon Hundred by 
Richard, Earl of Gloucester, father of the then Earl Gilbert, 
for the service of the King, Edward I. We have some records 
of this court relating to Holcombe, which I have referred to 
elsewhere. Then there was the Court Baron. This was 
especially the freeholders' court, and could not be held unless 
three free tenants were present. These three tenants were 
judges in all matters relating to the freeholders of the manor, 
and the steward registered their complaints and the decisions 
arrived at. These courts allowed or prevented the appropria- 
tion of commons or wastes, and they settled disputes between 
neighbours and ordered repairs to be made to cottages on the 
estate. Here, also, the various officers of the manor were 
appointed ; as the hayward, the bailiff, the constable, the ale 
taster, and the swineherd. Here permission was given to a 
widow to hold her free bench, or to a father to apprentice his 
children, to send his son to school or put him into holy orders. 
Here even the lord himself might be had up for acting tyran- 
nically and arbitrarily. 

Lastly there was the customary court, held once in three 
weeks, for the copy-holders, who in this court held in all 
matters affecting their rights the position of jurors in a court 
of justice with the lord or his steward as their judge. 

The Court Baron of this parish continued to be held up 


to the year 1817. James Eyre Salmon was then Lord of the 
Manor. The copy of the court roll was as follows :— 

" The Court Baron of James Eyre Salmon was held on 

Trinity Monday, being the 22nd day of June in the 57th year 

of the reign of our sovereign lord, George the Third, by the 

grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and 

Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith. 

Present James Eyre Salmon, Lord of the Manor. 

( Robert Ashman. 

Free Suitors I Emanuel Green. 

' Joseph Padfield. 

Henry Wild— Bailiff. 

At this court the suitors present James Badman, of this 

parish, cord wainer, as a fit and proper person to fill the office 

of Hayward of the said Manor, and he is in open court sworn 


\/ The mark of 

^ James Badman." 

The language used in these manor court rolls is couched 
in homely and familiar terms. All that is threatening is 
disguised in smooth language. The culprit is addressed as 
<l fair friend," and called by his Christian name. 

" Debonaire " is a term often used. Death is spoken of 
as " the closing of a man's last day." 

The convicted person's punishment is left open, and he is 
said to be " in the mercy of the Lord." Even when capital 
punishment is evidently intended, the stern decree is veiled 
in the words, " take him away and let him have a priest." 

The awards and provisions for clearing the charge of 
crime are strange, and even grotesque. One man who has 
broken the assize of ale is awarded to be " at law six-handed," 
that is, to find five men with himself who will swear to his 
innocence and so clear him. Another man, who has foully 
threatened the bailiff, but denies the charge, is sentenced to 
*' wage his law," in other words to prove his innocence by 
bringing sufficient witnesses to clear him. 

How strange, too, was the incidence of the Deodand, 


whereby the implement or weapon, piece of furniture, or any 
other chattel with which an assault was made, or injury in- 
flicted, or accidentally sustained to life or limb, was taxed for 
the profit of the lord as though it was a rational creature and 
responsible for the consequences. 

Various curious customs and terms are found in some 
of the early leases of this Manor. 

By the terms of the lease to Mr. William Moore by Mr. 
Arthur Fortesque, of Moor's Farm, called the Capital Mes- 
suage and Farm of Holcombe in 1674, the tenant to keep up 
and repair the premises having the privilege of houseboot, 
hedgeboot, hayboot, ploughboot, cartboot, foldboot, and 
fireboot (it is often spelt bote, not boot). 

This lease only confers upon the tenant a moiety or " half- 
endeal," as it is called, of the property, that is, the east part of 
the house, including the entry hall, the buttery, and two 
chambers over the same, and the east side of the farm lands. 

Another lease, dated a month later, confers the other 
moiety or half-endeal of the west part of the house, that is, the 
entry hall, buttery, kitchen, dairy, bake-house, and chambers 
above the same, and the west side of the land. 

Another old and surviving custom of the Manor is what 
is called a " quit rent." 

Jacob's law dictionary gives this definition of a quit rent. 
He says it is from the Latin, " Quietus Redditus," or quiet 

It is a small rent payable by the tenants of manors in 
which the tenant goes quiet and free. In'ancient records it 
is called " White Rent," because it was paid in silver money 
to distinguish it from rent corn. 

In Bishop Rennet's parochial antiquities, ' Quietus " is 
said to be a writ of discharge granted to those barons and 
knights who personally attended the king inVany foreign 
expedition, and were, therefore, exempt from the claim of 
scutage or a tax on every knight's fee. 

A number of fresh leases were granted after 1734, when 
Mr. W. H. Salmon became Lord of the Manor. 


These were granted to miners occupying cottage tene- 
ments upon Holcombe Common. They are all leases upon 
the regular terms of the Manorial tenures. 

There is first the amount paid as a fine or recovery, as it 
was called, for entering upon the property. This varies from 
£2/2/- to £3/3/-. Then there is a small yearly rent, varying 
from 2/6 to 6/-. They are granted for 99 years upon three 

Then there is a heriot upon the decease of any of the lives. 
This runs from 5/- to 10/-. 

The tenants have to keep their cottages in repair. 

" They have to pay their rent half yearly, and the heriot 
or quit in 21 days. They have to do suit and service at the 
manor courts upon receiving due notice, and submit to the 
lawful and reasonable amercements, orders, pains, forfeitures, 
and agreements by the lord or steward of this Manor and 
majority of the tenants in the same court from time to time 
adjudged, imposed and agreed upon concerning the said 
cottage or house for the well ordering for the said Manor and 

Here it is to be noticed that the majority of the tenants 
of the Manor or jurors at the Manor court had a special voice 
in the ordering of all matters in the court, and that the lord of 
the Manor was not able to assert his will without their consent. 

The Manor of Holcombe does not date back as far as the 
Domesday survey. The parish, of course, existed, but it had 
not been constituted a manorial fief. Probably it was still 
mixed up with the king's demesne of Kilmersdon. Collinson 
was mistaken when he specified it as a fief of Robert de Cour- 
celle, and located that in this hundred, whereas it was situated 
in the hundred of Aisholt upon the Quantock Hills. 

The earliest authentic mention of our Holcombe as a 
Manor is found in the records of the house of St. John of 
Jerusalem at Buckland-Mynshyn, near Durston, which had 
connected with it a nunnery where a few ladies of gentle birth 
nursed the sick and poor around them. 

In this record we find that Denyse and Margaret, the 


daughters of Herveius de Holcombe, left land in the parish to 
the brethren of this community, as I have mentioned else- 
where. They seem to have been left a moiety each of the 
Manor by their father, and as the latter lady states that her 
lands lay at Edford on the east and west side of her Manor of 
La-Holcomba, we may presume that her sister Denyse's 
moiety lay on the north side of the parish upon the hill. So 
there must have been two distinct hamlets, each possessing 
its own manorial rights. 

The name Herveius, or Herve, is a rare Norman, or rather 
Breton name. 

Herve de Leon was one of three mercenary soldiers of 
high birth who fought for King Stephen, and enabled him to 
recapture the fortresses of Castle Cary, Harptree, and Bath. 
The other two were Alan de Dinan, and Alan the Black, of 

The date of this exploit of Herve de Leon would be about 
1 150 A.D. He was a very adventurous soldier, and was re- 
warded by Stephen with the hand of his daughter. He held 
the castle of Devizes, or, as it was then called, the Divisae, 
against the Empress Maud, but owing to the intense indigna- 
tion he excited among the population of the district by his 
cruelty, the castle was stormed by the whole countryside, and 
he was forced to fly and leave it to its fate, so says the late 
Professor Freeman. 

Curiously enough the name Hervey, later Harvey, has 
survived in the parish down to modern times, Harvey's Field 
being a place name from earliest days in our local records, and 
being possessed at this present time by Mr. William Emery. 
This Herveius de Holecombe was probably the descendant 
of another Norman or Briton of the same name. 

Mr. Eyton points out that there was a certain Hervey de 
Wilton, who was the Conqueror's chamberlain (Camerarius), 
and who held estates in capite in Dorset and Wilts. He also 
tells us that, according to the Gheld inquest in 1084, this same 
officer of the king held of the king an estate or estates in Frome 
Hundred of such capacity as that his demesnes therein were 


nine hides. Now there is no mention in Domesday of any 
such estate, but neither is there of the manorial property of 
Wellow and Kilmersdon ; and why ? Because it was in the 
king's own hands, and therefore did not come under the 
inspection of the commissioners. Now, Kilmersdon was then 
in Frome Hundred, and therefore we may assume that these 
nine hides were in Kilmersdon. " Our further conjecture," 
says Mr. Eyton, " is that before the year 1084 the king had 
entrusted or given to his chamberlain Hervey one or both of 
the Manors of Wellow and Kilmersdon, and that the reason 
why Hervey's tenure does not appear in the Somerset Domes- 
day is that the estates which he held were excluded from that 
record." This seems natural enough, and as we find a Hervey 
holding the Manor of Holcombe, which was in Kilmersdon, 
what more do we want to show that this Hervey was granted 
land in Kilmersdon and Wellow, as Mr. Eyton surmises, and 
that this Herveius de Holcombe was his grandson ? The 
hiatus seemed to be filled up in this way, and the problem 
fairly solved. If so, it is also very interesting to know that 
the first Herveius, who held the land in Kilmersdon Hundred, 
and probably in Holcombe, was an able and brave captain 
under William the Conqueror, who had given " The Breton 
Hervey a high command," says Freeman, quoting from 
Orderic Vitalis, where it runs thus : " Herveius Brito Quern 
Magistrum Militum Constituerat." 

As rather confirming this I may state that a neighbouring 
manor, that of Buckland Dinham, was granted by the Con- 
queror to Oliver de Dinan, a compatriot of Herveius. Dinham 
is a modernised form of Dinan. 

This Herveius de Holcombe probably held the Manor up 
to 1180, which would allow of sixty years between his death 
and the succession of his grandson, William de Holcombe, who 
confirms his mother Denyse's grant about the year 1240, as 
is fairly proved by the date of the signatories to this grant, 
especially that of Andrea de Stratton, whose name appears in 
a suit brought against him by Henry de Holcombe in 1242. 

This William de Holcombe, who succeeded his mother 



Denyse, is evidently the man who sold his moiety of the Manor 
to the Abbot of Keynsham in 1242. 

" At Westminster, 27 Henry III, 1242. At the Quin- 
zaine of St. Michael, between William de Holcombe, claimant, 
and John, Abbot of Keynsham, tenant, for a moiety of the 
Manor of Holcombe, except seven ferlings and forty-seven 
acres of land and four messuages, three shillings rent and two 
mills and the advowson of the chapel of the said Manor." 
(Feet of Fines, Somerset Record Society.) This suit was 
amicably settled, as we find in 1243, in the Feet of Fines, that 
William de Holcombe quit-claims all his rights to the Abbot, 
who pays William nineteen marks in settlement. 

The portions excepted from the purchase were, I suppose, 
the land already belonging to the Abbot, which included that 
part of the parish called Moore's Farm, and the advowson of 
the living. This seems proved by the fact that though the 
advowson of the living was not part of the purchase, yet it 
always belonged to the Abbots of Keynsham, and remained 
theirs till the dissolution of the monastery, when it was 
bought by the Horner family. 

These lands had been granted to the Abbey of Keynsham 
by Gilbert Clare, Earl of Gloucester, grandson of William, Earl 
of Gloucester, a son of the famous Robert of Gloucester, 
Henry I's natural son, who founded this Abbey in memory of 
his only son, Robert, who died in 1166. 

The Abbot held his land under " the honour of Glouces- 
ter," which was a higher kind of feudal title than a mere 
Manor. One of his successors, in 1485, died possessed of one 
hide of land in Holcombe which the Abbots held of Jasper 
Lord Bedford and Katrina, his wife, in right of the said 
Katrina, as of their honour, of Tonnebrugge, in County Kent, 
parcel of the honour of Gloucester, founders of the said 
monastery. This was evidently the land originally granted 
by Gilbert Clare. The land bought from William de Hol- 
combe seems to have been held under Johanna de Lockington, 
or Walton in free soccage, which was a peculiar kind of tenure 
of land granted out of the original king's demesne, and 


involving special honours and privileges. For this he had to 
pay suit and service at the Manor Court of Kilmersdon, and 
we find in the pleas of the crown that he was often censured 
for Tnon-attendance. i 

In 1302 we find that the free tenant of the hamlet of 
Holcombe- paid I2d; rent to Elias de Albianaco, Lord of 

The other moiety of the Manor seems to have undergone 
several changes, and to have been subject to various sub- 
infeudations, being held by Roger de Lockington under George 
de Cantelo in 1284, as to half a fee, by Simon, son of Simon, in 
1303, as to one-third of a fee by Simon Thorny in 1316, by 
Walter de Folkeland in 1346 as to one-quarter of a fee, and 
finally by John Pederton in 1428.—" Feudal Aids," Vol. IV. 

His daughter Agnes married John Bamfield, whose son, 
Peter Bamfield, inherited this estate, and transmitted it to 
Sir Charles Warwick Bamfield, the owner of Hardington, 
according to Collinson in 1779: 

Eventually it became the property of Sir John Paulton, 
who also owned the estate of Croscombe, which, with that of 
Holcombe, became the property of Colonel Robert Fortesque, 
of Castle Hill, Devon, by his second marriage. He had 
previously bought the property once belonging to Keynsham 
Abbey from his father-in-law, John Horner, of Mells, so the 
same man became possessed of the two moieties of the Manor 
of Holcombe, one by inheritance through Sir John Paulton, 
of Croscombe, the other by purchase from his father-in-law. 
Having no son, Colonel Robert Fortesque left both properties 
to his brother Arthur, of Penwarne, in Cornwall, whose 
grandson, Hugh, created Lord Clinton, having also no son, 
sold all his Holcombe property to W. H. Salmon in 1734, and 
thus the two portions of the Manor once belonging to Herveius 
de Holcombe came again into the hands of one man, a native 
of the parish of Holcombe. 

This is the history of the Manor of Holcombe and the 
pedigree of its successive lords. The title, " Lord of the 
Manor," is now almost a nominal one, and conveys little 


meaning to many. It is looked upon as an antiquated relic 
of a bygone age. But the Lord of the Manor has even now 
some rights and perquisites which have to be reckoned with. 

These things are at least interesting from an antiquarian 
point of view. They are all the more so because they are the 
surviving portions of a social system never entirely abrogated, 
and lately revived under the newly created institutions of local 
government, such as Parish, District, and County Councils. 
The germs and principles of our present county, urban and 
parish councils existed in those old manorial courts, and have 
never been entirely superseded. 

By their association with those manorial customs, our 
ancestors doubtless formed, as Mr. Hone remarks, those habits 
of self-reliance and resourcefulness which have imprinted an 
undying character on the race. 

In one respect, at least, the old order of things had an 
advantage over the present. In those days there was no 
occasion to supplement or supersede the normal and ordinary 
rules of the courts by special enactments, or what we should 
now call bye-laws, because the power always resided in the 
people of modifying the existing laws or providing others as 
occasion required. The word " bye-law " itself, so suggestive 
of extraneous authority, comes down from the earliest times. 
The Bye-law or Burlie or Byrelaw men, a common institution 
in Scotland, and in the northern villages of England, especially 
in Yorkshire, were chosen and appointed by the whole town- 
ship for the adjustment of village grievances, and had the 
power to determine all petty questions which arose, such as 
rights of pasturage, delimitation of boundaries, assessment of 
taxes, the keeping up of roads, scouring ditches, and a hundred 
other like provisions. The court at which these things were 
regulated was called the Birlaw Court, and the point to be 
noticed, says Mr. Gomme in his " Primitive Folk-moots," " is 
that the sanction accompanying its provisions is not derived 
from a central government or outside authority, and is not 
enforced by the aid of a State police. The sanction is a part 
of the moral code of the district, which has created the office, 


and is based, therefore, upon the truest principles of ancient 
law/' ' 

From this we see, as I have said, that in the organisation 
of the Manor Courts we have the germ and principle of those 
institutions of the present day, by which power has been given 
to the people of a locality to legislate for their own local needs, 
and not to wait for the tedious deliberation and sanction of 
any higher authority. 

The law of those Manor Courts was village law, not 
county law ; local law, not sovereign law; and they who 
administered it were the men best qualified to know what was 
wanted and how best to meet that want in the fullest way. 

Chapter XVII. 


ENGLAND, for many centuries, was characteristically 
a land of forests. Its coal measures, its peat and 
moss deposits, its place names of Dean, Dens and 
Ardens, still more its universal term " field," or a felled place, 
for its enclosures, all point to the same conclusion. 

Fallen timber everywhere obstructed the streams, and 
condensed the rain, and only the downs and hilltops rose above 
the perpetual tracts of wood. The Romans, indeed, made the 
Celtic population fell the woods along their lines of military 
roads, and trees were gradually thinned by being used for 
building and for fuel, and for the charcoal for their iron and 
lead furnaces. 

And yet even in Plantagenet times there were no less 
than 68 Royal forests, and it is estimated that so late as the 
reign of Elizabeth, one-third of England was in waste. 

The chief forests were Sherwood, Charnwood, Arden, 
Dean, Rokingham, Gaultres, Braden, Melksham, Cannock, 
Andresweald, Selwood, Gillingham, Nottingham, and Quan- 
tock. These were named in a special list furnished us by a 
schedule made of the windfalls which fell to the king, Henry 
III, after the terrible storm in 1222. 

The principal trees of the forest were the oak, ash, and 
elm, the three trees which have acquired from their good 
qualities the style and title of timber trees. These three the 
best authorities classify as indigenous, though Caesar says 
that every tree grew in Britain except the fir and beech. 
Kemble, however, tells us that many other trees were fre- 
quently named in the land boundaries of the Saxons, as thorn, 
elder, lime, and birch, so that these must not be excluded 
from the list of indigenous growths. We will, however, 
confine our attention to the generally best known trees in 
Britain, only adding the walnut, the yew tree, and the thorn. 



The oak, as the king of the forest, must come in for our first 

This king of the forest was the sacred tree of the Druids, 
as their very name testifies, for the Celtic word Derw, 
collateral with the Greek word Drus, stands for oak. The 
" Dryads " among the Greeks were the fairies who peopled 
their woods. Under the shade of the oak, as at Mamre 
in Old Testament days, ancient conferences were held, 
and shire and hundred and manor courts were convened: 
Under an oak situated near Cricklade, where the Oak Farm 
still exists, St. Augustine met and held his conference with the 
representatives of the old British Church, and settled the lines 
upon which the Christianity of Rome should be established 
in Britain: 

Another oak tree was famous in the annals of Henry VIII's 
reign. This was called the Oak of Reformation, because 
under it, and indeed upon it, sat the leaders of the rebellion 
under Ket, who rose against the Government upon matters 
connected with the Land Laws, and sided with the northern 
rebels. This oak was much used as their place of meeting, 
and upon it they hung some of the officers sent by the king to 
put down the rising. 

Tradition has christened a weird old oak in this neigh- 
bourhood by the name of " Monmouth," the royal adventurer 
who won the hearts of the country folk by his handsome face 
and the loud professions he made of righting the wrongs of his 
uncle's rule and maintaining the principles of the Protestant 
faith. Hard by this oak tree at Downhead they met under 
his banner, and marched with him to Shepton, and thence to 
Bridgwater, only to die like sheep in the dykes and rhymes of 
Sedgemoor, and to learn when too late what a pitiable poltroon 
he was, and how unworthy to be their leader. 

This " Monmouth " oak measures 19 feet 10 inches in 
girth, 4 feet from the ground. 

Then there was once an oak at Frome called Cottle's Oak, 
a name still given to an outlying part of the town. Cottle's 
Oak was named after Elias de Cotele, Lord of the Manor of 


Camerton, Crosscombe, and other places near here. His 
name is also connected with another tree, the ash in West 
Somerset, where Cottle's Ash forms the boundary in an old 
Saxon Charter. 

But fine oaks abound in this district. A specimen, which 
measures 22 feet round at 6 feet from the ground, stands close 
by Mells House, and Longleat Park contains many as fine. 

The " Selwood Oak " was renowned in former days, but 
its measurements were nothing out of the common. Probably 
its fame arose from some other cause, as, for instance, its 
being a trysting, or boundary tree. 

None of our oaks, probably, can beat the two called Gog 
and Magog in Castle Ashby Park, which the author's father 
was shown by the late Bishop of Ely, Lord Alwyne Compton, 
and which measured over 30 feet in girth at a height of 10 
feet from the ground. 

These oaks have given names to, and in some cases have 
been kept in memory by, the various public houses called after 
them in all parts of the country ; as testified by the many 
Honor Oaks, Manor Oaks, Royal Oaks, and Gospel Oaks of 
the Metropolis and elsewhere. The Gospel Oaks have a 
peculiar origin of their own. They recall to our minds the 
custom once so prevalent, of perambulating the parish at 
Rogationtide, and of the Gospel for the day being read at the 
end of the round by the Priest under some spreading oak 
tree, accompanied by the plaintive cries of the church choir of 
boys, who were whipped on the spot that they might remember 
the event, and then received their consolation in the shape of 
sweetmeats and pennies. 

The next place in the role of our famous trees must be 
assigned to the ash. The ash was a rival to the oak in the 
veneration and superstitious usages of our ancestors. Even 
now the oak and ash are coupled together as rivals in our 
weather prognostications. It is said, 

" If the ash precedes the oak, 
Be sure you'll get a jolly soak ; 
But if the oak precedes the ash, 
Why, then you'll only get a splash." 


The ash, especially the mountain ash, has always had 
magical and healing powers attributed to it. A crutch made 
of the Rawn or Rowann or mountain ash was used in the 
magic spells of the Druids and sorcerers of later days, and when 
children suffered from hernia it was considered a specific to 
pass them twice through the fissure cleft through the trunk of 
an ash, which, as it grew together again, would effect the cure of 
the child. Gilbert White, in his " History of Selborne," speaks 
of some pollards which show the marks of having been 
formally cleft asunder. And John Evelyn, in his " Silva," 
says : — " I have heard it affirmed with great confidence, and 
upon experience, that the rupture to which many children are 
obnoxious, is healed by passing the infant through the wide 
cleft made in the bole or stem of a growing ash tree, it is then 
carried a second time round the ash, and caused to repass the 
same aperture as before." 

Ashes as well as oaks grow to perfection here. They 
have given names to Ashbury, Ashwick, Three Ashes, Stan- 
brook Ash, and Gallows or Gallys Ash in Kilmersdon. This 
last seems to have rather a gruesome association ; it suggests 
the prerogative of the " Manor Gallows," which many lords, 
as, for instance, Thomas de St. Vigor, the lord of the Manor at 
Stratton, purchased from the early Norman Kings. This 
privilege was styled in Latin, " Furcce et fosses" i.e., a gibbet 
for the men, and a ditch for the women. Many Manors in 
Wiltshire possessed the same unenviable privilege. The 
gallows also was a common institution in primitive days. 
" No doubt," says Gomme, * the erection of the gallows 
completed the machinery of the ancient assembly places; the 
local judges adjudged the wrong-doer and saw him executed 
forthwith." Few places in Scotland, he informs us, have not 
a gallows-hill. In England one venerable tree was known by 
the name of the " Judgment Thorn," and near at hand was 
the gaily-fat, or gallows-flat, where judgment was carried 
into execution. An ash tree in Applegarth churchyard is 
called the " gorget " tree, from the circumstance of its having 
been used, it is said, as a pillory in the days of yore. 


We will next take the elm, the third of the trio of the 
special trees which, from their good qualities, have acquired 
the style and title of timber trees. No other trees are legally 
timber by any custom of Somerset. Some people argue that 
the elm is not indigenous, and no doubt its name is a Latin 
one, Ulmus. Anyhow, it has taken so kindly to our soil that 
it may be called a native, and, indeed, the weed of the soil. 
It does not grow in our forests, and was only planted in Scot- 
land in 1736, though the wych-elm, as Sir W. Hooker says; 
was a native there. The elm was well known in Italy, and 
vines were trained upon it. Leland, in his " Itinerary," 
speaks much of the elmwood he saw in Somerset. He says : 
" The pastures and fieldes be much enclosed with hedge 
rowes of elmes." He is speaking of the field elm. Billingsley, 
in his survey of Somerset, says, " Elm is the spontaneous 
product of the county." Elms rather choke the soil, as they 
spread their roots to a great distance, and so are injurious to 
the arable. They also have a nasty trick, like starfishes, of 
casting their branches with very little provocation. Elms 
often grow to a considerable height. 

The skeleton of an elm, called the " Stump Elm," 
measuring 23 feet 3 inches at 4 feet from the ground, marks 
the boundary between Radstock and Midsomer Norton, and 
is still standing in Westfield, affording shelter at night to 
wanderers on the roads. 

Beeches, which grow well here, and though not classed 
as timber trees, are not to be despised, were evidently much 
valued in Italy, for Horace sings : — 

" Parce precor fagi, 

Rustice parce comas." 
(" Woodman spare, oh spare, I pray 

The beeches' locks") 

The ancients luxuriated in the lofty canopy afforded by 
its dense foliage. They knew also the worth of its sweet 
mast, which they considered more valuable than the fari- 
naceous nut of the chestnut. They used its wood also for 
bowls, a use alluded to by their poets. It furnished so smooth 


a bark that rustics selected it to carve their names on, and 
their amorous symbols. Laurence Koster, of Haarlem, 
fashioned beech bark into letters, which led to the invention 
of printing. The wood also of the tree having been formerly 
used for forming the sides of volumes, came to be applied to 
the volume itself. "It is worth noticing in this connection," 
says the Rev. A. Johns, in the S.P.C.K. volume on trees : 
" how many words connected with literature bear allusion to 
the materials anciently used in writing." He specifies paper 
from the papyrus, and the "leaf" of a book from the leaf of 
a palm. Liber also from the inner bark of trees, as lime, ash, 
maple, elm. Hence library, or a collection of books and 
volumes, or the rolled (volutus) paper of parchment which 
was the earliest kind of book. 

In early England hardly an estate was without its mast 
woods, and the number of swine-herds on each Manor was 
carefully registered in the Domesday book. 

The swine-herd was not as we might fancy, a mere hind or 
low serf, on the contrary, he was a freeman, who paid rent in 
pigs for the privilege of feeding swine on mast in the woods. 
He rendered 15 porkers every year, provided a horse for work 
on the Demesne-land, and performed other duties. 

There were 86 Porcarii, or swine-herds, attached to the 
Manors of Warminster, Westbury, and Bradford in Wilts (as 
we see by Domesday), who, no doubt, fed their hogs in the 
neighbouring forest of Selwood. 

The Manor of Taunton had 17, and there were 7 in the 
Manor of White Lackington, who paid Roger Arundel forty 
hogs annually for the privilege of feeding in his woods. 

Especial laws were made for the pannage of this valuable 
animal, and there was a careful distinction between the swine 
de herbagio (the lean swine, fed upon the herbage of the 
waste) and the fatted swine of the woods in the Dens. 

Now we come to a tree found mostly in the neighbour- 
hood of manors and farm-houses, well-called " delightful and 
precious," the walnut, or " bannut." The walnut is an 
importation. It has nothing to do with wall fruit, of course ; 


it means " the foreign nut." The Saxons called it so when 
they found it in England. Welsh was their word for every 
thing foreign to their own country. Welshmen were the 
foreigners. The Welsh called themselves Cymri, not Welsh- 
men. Italy was called by the Germans, Walshland ; so the 
walnut, being a foreign tree which came from Italy, and was 
probably introduced by the Romans, was called the Welsh- 
nut or foreign nut. In Radstock there is a field called the 
" Welshnut Ground," that is, the walnut ground. There is 
also a walnut ground in Stratton parish. 

Our old adage says, " A wife, a dog, and a walnut tree ; 
the more you beat them the better they be." This is philo- 
sophically explained as far as the walnut is concerned, because 
when the ends of the branches are beaten with poles to collect 
the fruit, this breaks off many of their points, and so causes 
the production of new spurs, which will probably bear female, 
that is, fruit-bearing flowers. But there is no philosophy to 
be found in dog-beating or wife-beating ; even a shrew must 
be tamed by much milder methods. There was a famous 
walnut tree which grew in Glastonbury Abbey churchyard on 
the north side of St. Joseph's Chapel; it was said never to bud 
before the Feast of St. Barnabas, and then on that very day 
to shoot forth leaves like its usual species ; some said, however, 
it was a French nut of the late variety, just as they said that 
the thorn was an importation from Palestine. 

There are several walnut trees in this district ; one on the 
site of the old village of Walton is 16 feet in girth and in 
spread 19 by 18 yards. There is a fine tree at Pitcote, near 
the farm-house. A fine walnut tree, in the hamlet of Yen- 
stone, near Henstridge Ash, was cut down in 1870 for veneer, 
and realised £140. 

The yew, rugged, gloomy, and weird, bespeaks our 
notice by the uses it serves. According to Pliny's description 
it is a tree of ill-omen. Virgil calls it a noxious tree. We 
know that one species is poisonous to cattle. Mr. Johns 
suggests the beautiful idea that the yew was planted in 
churchyards close to the cross to symbolise, by its durability, 


the patient waiting for the resurrection. As an evergreen 
tree it would be a fitting emblem of immortality. It was 
carried on Palm Sunday in procession instead of palms, which 
may have been another reason for its presence in the church- 
yard. But the best and most substantial explanation is that 
yews were planted in churchyards to afford a supply of wood 
for making bows. Yew wood was the best for bows, and they 
were forbidden to be transported, though foreign yew was 
deemed better, and sold for 6/8 as against the English yew at 
2/-. It was expressly ordered by statute law that yews 
should be planted in churchyards for the above-named 
purpose. Yews were planted in olden days also as sign-posts 
and guides upon the lonely downs used as pilgrimage routes, 
as along the " Pilgrim's Way " to Canterbury, and that to 
Waltham Abbey. 

A word must be added about a tree of renown in Somerset- 
shire, the Glastonbury thorn. The Glastonbury thorn, of 
miraculous tradition, was an importation from the Holy 
Land, brought back by some pilgrim and presented to an 
Abbot of Glastonbury. It was said, of course, to have sprung 
miraculously from the staff upon which St. Joseph of Arima- 
thea leant when toiling up Werral Hill. Its peculiarity con- 
sisted in its blossoming twice a year, at Christmas and in later 
spring. This is a fact still, and can easily be explained, though 
it was naturally cited as a miracle in former days. So a poet 
wrote of it : — 

" The hawthorns also that groweth in Werrall, 
Do burge and, bear green leaves at Christmas, 
As fresh as other in May, when the nightingale 

Wrestles out her notes musical and pure as glass." 

It was thought such a wonder, that Lord Cromwell's 
visitor to the Abbey in 1535 sent up two blossoms to his 
master in London, wrapped in white and black sarcenet. 
The word for the blossom gave its title to an inn sign in 
London, so cherished was its memory. Dr. Plot, in 1677, 
explains its blossoming twice by saying, that being a very 
hardy plant, and being imported from foreign lands, where 


it blossoms in December, it still keeps its usual time of blos- 
soming, if the season is mild, and comes into full bloom again 
in the later spring. There are a good many thorns of this 
species growing in the country; the author had one in his 
Rectory Field at Horsington, which certainly blossomed 
before Christmas, as well as in the spring, and his gardener 
declared that the cattle used to bow down and worship it on 
Christmas Eve. 

An extract from the dedication of his Herbal to Queen 
Elizabeth, by Dean Turner, of Wells, may form a fitting close 
to this notice of trees. Quoting Virgil he says : — " Si canimus 
silvas, silvae sunt consule dignae." 

But we must not think that our forests were all alike 
clothed with timber and dense brushwood, and tangled 
thickets without any break or open glades and clearings. 

Timber, in the legal sense of the word, is no more a 
necessary part of an English forest than of a Highland deer 
forest. The king's forest generally denoted a privileged 
hunting area with just such density, and kind of covert and 
vert, as it was called, which was suitable for the shelter and 
food of deer. Everything in such a forest was subsidiary to 
the chase, and the deer were the especial objects of concern. 
Nothing was permitted to be done which would be prejudicial 
to their health and comfort. No industry, such for instance 
as tanning, was allowed, which, by its smell, could be dis- 
tressful to them. Sheep were not allowed in the forest 
because their smell also was obnoxious to the deer, and 
because they spoilt the chance of fresh herbage. No possible 
injury to these beasts of the chase could pass unpunished. 
Even to harry a deer by following him too persistently till he 
should pant for breath was subject to a severe penalty. A 
serf was scourged for this offence. Great importance was 
attached to the lopping of trees on which deer browsed, and 
injunctions were laid against lopping them too low in the stem, 
and so depriving the deer of their needful food. The deer 
were classed in a threefold division. 

First there were the Red Deer, of which the male was 


called a Hart, the female a Hind ; when five years old the 
Hart was called a Stag, when six years old a Hart, when a year 
older a great Hart. The great Abbey of Ford, in Dorset, was 
in very early days called Herts-bath, or the Hart or Stag's 
bathing place. That name gives us a pretty picture of the 
Hart, who had left " his midnight lair," and had shaken the 
dewdrops from his dainty sides, and now panting for the water 
brooks, was seen through the leafy covert, laving his comely 
limbs in the limpid waters of the Axe. The Saxon duly 
marked that favourite spot, and conferred upon it the descrip- 
tive name of Hertsbath, by which for ages it was known, till 
the Norman changed it, in his supercilious scorn of everything 
Saxon, to the commonplace name of Ford. Another story of 
the Hart is told, which surviving custom has verified. In 
the Vale of Blackmoor there sported a beautiful and goodly 
white hart in the days of Henry III. Moved by its comeliness 
the king spared its life and forbore to capture and kill it. But 
another hunter, less merciful, turned upon it, and after a 
boisterous chase, overtook it at Pulham Bridge, and struck it 
dead. The king was so incensed when he heard of it that he 
cast the huntsman, Sir Thomas de La Lynde, the Bailiff of 
Blackmoor, into prison, with his companions, and fined them 
heavily. He also laid a tax upon the land which the gentle 
feet of the White Hart had traversed. This tax was called 
"White Hart Silver, "and has been paid from that time to this by 
grumbling squires and yeomen. " Some," says Sir F. Treves, 
"impugn this story, and say there are no public records of any 
such payment." But, as he says, how comes it that the money 
called White Hart Silver has been paid ever since, as, for 
instance, by Thomas Fuller, Rector of Broadwindsor, who 
paid it with this remonstrance : " Myself hath paid a share 
for the sauce, who never tasted the meat " ? " It was only the 
other day," says my friend, Col. Mansell Pleydell, late 
master of the boar hunt at Tangiers, a descendant of 
the first payers, " that^we ceased paying it yearly, having 
compounded with the Government against all future claims." 
All this surely may be taken in verification of the truth of the 


origin of the old place name, " The King's Stag's Bridge," at 

The second kind of deer was called the Fallow Deer, the 
male of which was a buck, the female a doe. A fawn was a 
fallow deer of one year old. This was the commonest breed 
of deer, and is the kind usually found in our parks at the 
present day. The Roe or Roebuck was the third species, a 
much smaller animal, only 26 inches high up to the shoulder, 
and by no means so common as the Fallow Deer, at least in 
modern days. Still, there are a good many cases on record 
of presentments of culprits for killing the Roebuck in the 
13th and 14th century, and as late as the reign of Henry VII. 
Chaucer mentions the Roe as abounding in his day. 

The Wild Goat and the Roe appear to have been called 
promiscuously by the same name, " Capreoli," and in many 
cases the translation is " wild goats," when it should have been 
Roes and Roebucks. 

So we read in the records of Keynsham Abbey that Henry 
III granted to his cousin, Eleanor, nine red deer (Cervi) in his 
Forest oi Mendip, and five Capreoli in the thickets of Keyn- 
sham. " The Roebuck continued to be an inhabitant of 
England," says the author of " English Forests and Forest 
Trees," " till 1750, after this it became quite scarce, and the 
last was destroyed in 1780." The other of the four beasts of 
the forest whose flesh came under the term venison, was the 
Boar. This beast was rigorously preserved for the sport of our 
Saxon and Norman kings. 

It was one of the oldest known, and most renowned of 
the animals of the chase in British forests. The Celts, Romans, 
Saxons and Normans were addicted to hunting this beast, and 
their exploits were often recorded in sculpture, on which the 
figure of the wild boar was prominent. Boar hunting was a 
favourite sport of the Henrys I and II and John, and even 
James I hunted these animals in Windsor Forest. 

After Charles II's reign the wild boar became extinct in 
England. Many place names, such as Evershot, Eversley, 
Everton, Evershaw, where the prefix is from Eofer the boar, 


and many men's names, like that of William de la March, 
called the wild boar of Ardennes, show how many boars there 
were in the various forests, and how familiar people were with 
their habits and dispositions. The wild boar harboured in 
the most solitary places in some wild and remote spot not far 
from water, and commanding by devious paths access to the 
open country. Fitzstephen, writing in the latter part of the 
twelfth century, states that Epping Forest was then frequented 
by wild boars. A wound from a boar's tusk was a dangerous 
thing. A wound from a stag's horn, when turned to bay, was 
more fatal still at certain seasons of the year, as is expressed 
in the old rhyme : — 

" If thou be hurt with hart it brings thee to thy bier, 
But Barber's hand will boar's hurt heal, therefore thou needst not 

This may be so, but the wild boar, nevertheless, can in- 
flict very deadly wounds, as records of sport in India and else- 
where prove to-day. 

But a wild boar is credited by the eastern tribes, especi- 
ally by the Turcomans, with being able to inflict more than a 
mortal wound with his horrid tusks. He who receives death 
by such an animal, enters the next world in a state of un- 
cleanness, no matter how pious a life he has led, and must 
suffer the fires of hell for five hundred years before he can be 
purified again, and even then not completely. So Arminius 
Vambery, the great traveller to Khiva and Bokhara, tells us ; 
having been congratulated by a Turcoman fellow traveller on 
escaping this terrible fate. 

The memory of the wild boar was kept up by the varieties 
of legends and carols associated with the festivities of the 
boar's head at Christmas. The Boar's Head Tavern, where 
Shakespeare fixes the rendezvous of Prince Hal, Poins, 
Falstaff, Bardolph, and their thieving crew, was well known in 
Eastcheap. At Queen's College, Oxford, a boar's head is 
carried in procession at Christmas up to the table where sits 
the provost, bursar, and fellows of the college, and a carol is 
sung, while the head is slowly borne aloft. 



Was it a " Queen's " man who, as tradition goes, met a 
wild boar in ancient days on Shotover Hill, and having no 
weapon to defend himself with, thrust the parchment roll of 
Aristotle's ethics he was studying at the time down the open 
mouth of the monster ? If so, no wonder they sing, " Guadia- 
mus igitur " in triumph over the boar's head. It would be 
as difficult now-a-days to meet an Oxford undergraduate so 
studiously inclined on Shotover Hill as to meet a wild boar. 

The king's forests had their special officers appointed 
under him to carry out all the harsh and vexatious forest 
laws. The head man was the " Forester in Fee." This office, 
in Somerset at least, was hereditary, and there was only one 
such officer set over each of the royal forests. 

Under the Forester in Fee there were ranged various 
officers, as Beadles, Rangers, Reeves, Verderers, Woodwards 
and Agisters, who were all amenable at the " Eyres," or 
forest courts. 

The chief forester carried a bow, and waited upon the 
king, and regulated the hunt when the king came into his 
district or Bailiwick. While his symbol was the bow, the 
horn was the general symbol of office of all Under-foresters. 

Chaucer's father was a forester in Somerset. The poet, 
therefore, knew well how they were dressed, and has described 
it in the " Canterbury Tales." 

The forester's oath, as given by Manwood in his " Laws 
of the Forest," was as follows : — 
" You shall true liegeman be 
Unto the kings majestie ; 

Unto the beasts of the forest you shall do no hurt, 
Nor to anything that doth belong thereunto ; 
The offences of others you shall not conceal, 
But to the utmost of your power you shall them reveal. 
All these things you shall see done, 
So help you God at His Holy Doom." 

A forester of note probably lived in this district, and gave 
his name to a hamlet called Vobster, as I have stated else- 

The forest officers had to appear at all Eyres, Swanemotes 



or Courts, and give in their reports, and present all those who 
transgressed against the forest laws. 

These forest laws were far less stringent in Saxon days. 
Then every man was allowed to hunt in his own woods and 
fields as long as he did not interfere with the king's sports. 
Still earlier, hunting was called a " common diversion," be- 
cause every person, at the death of the game, had a right to a 
share, even those who only happened to pass by at the time. 

The Saxon kings and princes were as fond of sport as the 
Normans, but far less tyrannical, and they never hedged round 
their royal woods with such severe laws as the Norman kings. 

During the later Saxon and Danish period, and under the 
laws of Canute, the freedom of chase became more and more 
restricted, till the severity of the Norman kings in carrying out 
the laws of the forest became excessive. 

Though topography does not bear out the accounts given 
by the chroniclers of William the Conqueror having destroyed 
whole villages and 30 churches in the New Forest for the sake 
of sport, yet his measures were no doubt sufficiently stern to 
justify the tradition. William Rufus, it was said, would hang 
a man for killing a doe, and would fine him twenty solidi, an 
.enormous sum in those days, for killing a hare, and ten solidi 
for killing a rabbit. 

Hence the Saxon chroniclers imputed the death of the 
Red King and of William's nephew, Robert, 'caught like 
Absolom in a tree, to Divine retribution. 

The term " forest " was first introduced into England in 
the reign of William I, and made to embrace vast districts, 
which included woodlands and wild wastes of moor, as well as 
patches of uncultivated land. Within these afforested 
districts he decreed that the right of hunting was vested solely 
in the Crown, and could be only exercised by the king, or by 
those who were specially privileged under royal licence to 
share in it. The subsequent Norman kings added largely to 
this area, even whole counties like Surrey and Essex being 
subjected to this exceptional jurisdiction. The complaints of 
the hardship caused by this arbitrary proceeding gradually 


gained voice, till they reached a climax in the reign of King 
John, who was compelled to agree by one of the articles of 
" Magna Charta " to the disafforesting of great tracts of 
country which had been made forest during his own and the 
previous reigns. 

From the time of the Great Charter, Edward I, 1272, no 
one could lose life or limb for forest offences. There was less 
strictness also in keeping up the exclusive right of hunting in 
the forests. In 1283 licences were granted to Lawrence St. 
Maur in the forests of Exmoor and Selwood, in the counties of 
Somerset and Wilts, to hunt the fox, hare, badger, and cat ; 
and in 1284 for one Alan de Plugenet (Plucknet) to hunt fox 
and hare in all the forests of Somerset and Dorset. 

The chief forests of Somerset were Quantock, Petherton, 
Exmoor, Selwood, and Mendip. 

Somerton was only a " chace," or rather park, but it had 
a very interesting history. It was much renowned in early 
Saxon days, and was a royal residence, and ancient capital of 
the Saemorsaetes, or, as Mr. Gresswell translates the word, 
the " Sea-moor-settlers." Its palace was walled in, and had 
castellated towers and battlements. The forest included the 
Borough of Langport, with its 34 Burgesses, the extreme end 
of the Parret's navigation. Close by, too, was Kingston, now 
Kingsdon, and not far off Ilchester, which was to play so con- 
spicuous a part in the military history of Roman Somerset, 
and afterwards in the history of the judicial records of the 

But to come to our neighbouring forest of Selwood. 
Selwood seems to have been reckoned almost as a shire. The 
Bishopric of St. Aldhelm, whose see was situated at Sherborne, 
was spoken of as the " Province which is vulgarly called 
Selwood shire." 

It was the Saxons who called it " Selwood," that is, the 
" Willow Wood," from " seal," a willow tree. In Latin deeds 
also it is called Silva Salicis. Willows probably grew in 
abundance along the banks of the Frome (Pilly Vale — Willow 
Vale, is a well-known place name at Frome), Avon, and Brue. 


Willows would appeal to the industrial instincts of the people, 
being invaluable for basket making and the wattling for 
houses and churches. Selwood Forest is always associated 
with the rendezvous of Alfred's host at Egbrightstone, whence 
he marched against the Danes. 

Leland tells us that in his day, 1540, the Forest of Sel- 
wood was 30 miles round and stretched one way, almost to 
Warminster, and another "unto the quarter of Shaftesbury, 
by estimation 10 miles." 

Still nearer home was Mendip. The old royal forest of 
Mendip, as we see by its first perambulation, did not comprise 
much more than the parishes of Axbridge and Cheddar, but 
the extended forest after the afforestation reached right down 
to Bleadon and Uphill on the Severn, and farther east to the 
Manor of Worle and to Sandy Bay and St. Thomas Point. 

Axbridge, famous as the hunting box of King John, who, 
in spite of his cruel deeds, and weak, vicious life, was somehow 
endeared to the people, probably on account of his jollity and 
love of sports, was the chief town within its precincts. 

The toast of " the mortal memory of good King John " 
was sung at the North Curry feast, the records of which are 
preserved at Wells. Holinshed's description of him chimes in 
with this. He says he was a "Monarch of right merry 
humour." A bit of this humour, though, must have made 
him the enemy of all the churchmen of his day, when at the 
close of a hunt he said of a fat buck which his huntsmen were 
opening, " See how fat he is, yet I dare swear he never heard 
Mass." But no amount of jolly humour can whitewash a man 
of his manner of life and conduct. Mendip may boast of 
worthier honours than the choice of King John as his hunting 
ground. Its history goes back into the remotest past, when 
its mineral wealth was the income of Briton and Roman alike. 
" Far back in the annals of our land," says Mr. H. P. Greswell, 
in his charming book on the "Forests of Somerset," " the 
Mendip range constituted roughly the eastern boundary of 
the ancient British kingdom of Damnonia (Devon) " ; but, as 
he eloquently remarks, " Mendip, with her bare feet in the 



Severn sea, has been scarred, stripped, and despoiled of her 
ancient forest wealth, and shows little of her old self." So, 
indeed, it is. Her primitive aspect has been much changed 
by the hand of man since the day when the Saxons swooped 
down upon her hills, after the sack of Bath, and only just 
failed to catch the British miners working in their lodes. She 
has been enclosed, tilled, and turned into sheep-walks by our 
agricultural community, and covered with leaden and iron 
ashes and bricks and stones by her mining population. 

There is little natural covert left for deer on Mendip, and 
still less such nutriment of vert as abounds in the more leafy 
combes of the Quantock^hills. Drayton in his day had begun 
to realise this when he wrote : — 

" To Mendip then the muse upon the south inclines, 
Which is the only store and coffer of her mines ; 
Elsewhere the fields and meads their sundry traffics suit, 
The forest yields her wood, the orchards give her fruit." 

That the Mendip hills, however, can be afforested and 
made to grow good timber has been proved in modern times. 
An ancestor of the author, Dr. Whalley, of Mendip Lodge, 
the friend of Mrs. Siddons and Mrs. Piozzi, tried this upon a 
small scale on the hills above Wrington and Langford, and 
converted a barren site into an estate clothed with firs and 
deciduous trees. (Plate XXII.) 

It was the first experiment which had been made of plant- 
ing upon Mendip, and ill were the general auguries of success, 
but the thousands of acres which now adorn the slopes of 
those hills, on the top of which stands out the far-famed 
British Camp of Dolberry, owe their origin to this beginning. 

In the midst of this sylvan retreat stands Mendip Lodge," 
once the country house of this first reviver of local afforesta- 

A word or two about a forest in Wilts connected with the 
author's early life when a boy at Marlborough College, viz., 
Savernake, the seat of the Marquis of Ailesbury. An open 
forest still lies to the east of the deer-park, with a large amount 
of heavily-timbered woodland. It was so near to Marlborough 


that the boys at the college made it a frequent resort. I fear 
we did not respect its sylvan sanctity as we ought to have 
done, and that we abused our privilege of roaming in its 
glades. It would have been more becoming in us had we all 
limited our enjoyment to the study of its natural history, as 
did my cousin, that grand child of nature, and eloquent and 
cultivated man of letters, the late Bosworth Smith. 

In his delightful book on " Bird-life," he gives a glowing 
account of Savernake, with its primeval oaks and beeches, and 
the various kinds of game, and of interesting birds of 
prey, which made the forest for him, as he says, " A paradise 
and sanctuary in one." We, however, I fear, regarded it from 
the schoolboy point of view as a happy hunting ground for 
killing or maiming everything which came into view, and 
robbing every nest of its eggs. The poor unfortunate squirrel 
was our chief victim, but happily he could leap from bough 
to bough, and hide himself in the foliage of the trees, though 
whenever we got a sight of him, we struck him down with a 
villainous weapon called a " squalor," which we carried with 
us. " Scale " or " squoyle " was another version of this 
word used in Sussex. It was also called a " slog," when it was 
only weighted with wood. Our weapon was weighted with 
lead, and had a cane handle. The verb derived from this 
word squalor is to squoyl, as is found in the term for the old 
sport of cock-squoiling. Then, from throwing at the cock, the 
word came to be used in reference to persons, so that " Don't 
squoyle at me" meant " Do not slander me." Lastly, the 
phrase now still common in the New Forest, " Don't throw 
squoyles at me" has come to signify " Do not throw glances 
at me." 

But the accounts of our Forests would be incomplete 
without some notice of the various populations which in- 
habited them, their occupations, and the life they led. 

Forest life may be said to have two aspects, according as 
we regard it in a poetical or prosaic light. In the former it is 
full of romance and mystery. Poets and novelists have run 
riot in its sylvan glades and dark groves. Legendary lore, 


too, has always found a congenial atmosphere in its solitudes. 
Here Hern the hunter carried on his nocturnal tricks, and 
here would be heard at night, ever and anon, as Mr. Greswell 
says, the deep baying of the Whist or Hell-hounds, and the 
voice of his Satanic majesty urging them on. The great oaks, 
beeches, and ashes, with their gnarled limbs and twisted 
branches would seem in the dusky shade or silvery moonlight 
like so many giants, ogres, and dancing satyrs. How many 
would experience the dread and awe of the poet Dante, when, 
" in the middle of the journey of his life, he came to himself in 
a dark wood, where the straight way was lost," and complained 
" how hard it was to tell what a wild, rough, and stubborn 
wood it was, which even to think of was to call up his fear 
again." But the romance of the forest had its real and living 
side as well. Here robbardsmen and drawlatchets, as the 
highwaymen of that day were called, lurked in the brushwood 
along the road-side, and fell upon the unprotected traveller. 
Our early laws insisted upon the clearing of all such brush- 
wood for 200 feet on each side of the highway, lest robbers 
should lurk there and waylay the unfortunate traveller. 
Here, also, the poor, witless vagrant, as Mr. Greswell says, 
found a hiding place, and was in constant danger of being 
suspected as a companion of thieves and vagabonds, and 
being exacted and outlawed. Genuine outlaws, too, who had 
committed some hasty or malicious act of reprisal or rebellion, 
and had been forced to abjure the realm, but had slunk back 
to their native home, had to fly for dear life and shelter them- 
selves here in some cave or dense thicket. Then there were 
the merrier and more popular outlaws, like Robin Hood and 
his following of Friar Tuck, Little John,, and Maid Marion, 
whose lawless sports were winked at even by kings for the 
display of archery they excelled in, and who were the popular 
favourites of the commoner folk for their adventurous deeds 
and merry songs, and dancing under the Greenwood tree. 
What if they shot a fat buck, or emptied a sleek merchant's 
purse, or stole an ecclesiastic's ambling palfrey now and then, 
they acted generously towards the poor, and, after all, their 


faults were rather of the head than the heart, and at the worst 
they were but restless, disaffected spirits, not cruel bandits 
and murderers. That they were always popular is evident 
from the fashion which prevailed so long of naming children 
Robin and Robert, and kindred terms, and from the many 
songs and plays and interludes in which the jests of Robin 
Hood were introduced, and the fact that a regular day was 
set apart as though it was a Saint's day in the merry England 
of Tudor times to feast and frolic in honour of the same outlaw 
of the forest, brave Robin Hood. 

But the forests were frequented by more remorseless and 
less picturesque culprits, who haunted the purlieus of the great 
cities and the country towns. Collinson tells us in 1790 that 
a portion of the Forest of Selwood, called the Woodlands, the 
scene of the writer's first happy associations with the church, 
and with the world, was the notorious asylum of a desperate 
band of men whose depredations within the memory of man 
were a terror to the surrounding parishes. (Plate XXIII.) 

The " Waltham Blacks," in Hampshire, are spoken of by 
Gilbert White in the same terms, though they were hardly so 
much robbers as poachers on a large scale, in fact the hooligans 
of the neighbourhood. 

Kingswood, again, near Bristol, was the haunt of a like 
band of lawless people, composed of gipsies, thieves, and vaga- 
bonds, who were the highwaymen of the day. They were so 
bad that an association had to be formed in Bristol in 1811, 
called the " Kingswood Association," to root them out. 

The gypsy also would be much in evidence in most 
forests ; they would be his happy hunting ground and city of 
refuge. Here he would plant his covered cart and tether his 
knock-kneed horses. Here his urchin brood would play in the 
woods, and fight with the mangy dogs for the last scraps from 
his scanty meal. Here also he would be seen mending pots 
and kettles, and grinding the knives and scissors of the farmer's 
wife in the clearing. Here the old hag of the tribe would 
spread her toils to catch some simple maiden, and get her to 
cross her hand with a silver piece. Sometimes, too, she would 


creep into the farmyard and purloin a fowl to stew in the caul- 
dron, which hung by its old crock from the tripod in the open; 

Our good King George III once rendered his service to a 
gypsy household, and must have won all their hearts thereby. 
Finding some children in great grief in the New Forest because 
their mother was dying, and could get nobody to minister to 
her spiritual wants, he volunteered his ministrations, which 
were received with confidence and satisfaction ; after soothing 
the anxiety of the dying gypsy with his kindly words of con- 
solation, he rode off unrecognised, leaving behind him, not only 
gold coins, but also golden opinions. 

Forest life, however, was not all romance and glamour; 
it had its prosaic side also, and harboured many an industrial 
worker. In many a forest, such as Mendip, we might have 
come across the ashburner, or charcoal burner, with his grimy 
face, carrying his load through the forest glades to the nearest 
town or village. Such an one was. Purkiss, who found the 
corpse of the Red King pierced with an arrow through the 
head, and was forced to carry his royal burden to Winchester 
to undergo the terror of the crowner's quest upon it. 

How those old charcoal burners (of whom he was one) in 
their rough jerkins, and thong-bound leggings, must have 
shuddered as they found the corpse ! Leave it they dare not ; 
to hide it would be their first thought, for what dire vengeance 
would be taken on the whole countryside when discovery 
should ensue. But, no, they must risk it, for sooner or later 
the truth would out ; so forward they drove the cart with its 
grim burden to Winchester to abide the dread result. This 
name of Purkiss is still found in the New Forest. 

We might also have seen the women and children sitting 
at their doors weaving baskets with the withys cut down in 
the bottoms, or making brooms out of the finer growths of 
heath, which was so abundant in the forest. Together with 
these were the rush-gatherers who provided the only carpets 
of that day. Perhaps, also, we might have seen, had it been 
springtime, the bark stripper, or ripper, plying his work among 
the oaks when the sap was rising. Another industrious 


worker was much in evidence in the forest, he was the bee- 
keeper or beeman. The bees fed largely upom the heather 
which abounded there, especially in the New -Forest. The 
honey from it was almost as good as that made on Mount 
Hymettus. The hollows in the old decayed oaks made 
capital nests or byres for the bees. These nests, with theif 
honey and comb, belonged strictly to the king, or over-lord, 
except in the case of freeholders in the forest. The bee- 
master was a regular officer in Saxon times. Bees nourished 
so well in our forests and heaths, that England at one time 
was called the " Honey Island." So beehives, with their caps 
of straw placed over the bee-pots to protect them from wet, and 
their tee-holes, so called from the buzzing or tee-ing noise of 
the bees, would be a familiar object in the forest clearings, and 
a visitor would realise the peculiar flight of the swarm which 
Coventry Patmore illustrates in the words : — 

" Under the chestnuts new bees are swarming, 
Falling and rising like magical smoke." 

The peasant farmer would have his farm in the clearing. 
Every forest district had its quota of domestic animals, and 
for their feed and pasturage a licence had to be taken out by 
their owners. The agisters or overseers had to exercise a 
strict oversight over this business. 

Lastly, we must not neglect to notice one great element 
of forest life which formed a strong feature of the scene in 
such forests as Kingswood, Dean, and our forest of Mendip. 
I allude to its mining and quarrying population. The former 
was very numerous in early days, and now the latter abounds ; 
At Priddy and Charterhouse on Mendip the greater part of 
the people were engaged in lead mining. The whole district 
round was thickly populated. We read that ten thousand 
people assembled at the great meeting at the " Forge on 
Mendip," near Ore, when the " Laws of the miners of Mendip " 
were drawn up as stated elsewhere. The miners enjoyed 
special privileges, and were under special laws of their own. 
They seem also, under the Romans, to have been provided 
with means of recreation, if the enclosure at Charterhouse on 


Mendip is a Roman amphitheatre, as its appearance seems to 

This all came to a sudden stoppage when the Saxons 
swooped down upon the work, and the native population fled 
precipitantly before them, and hid themselves in the dens and 
caves of the earth. Messrs. Baker and Balch tell us in their 
interesting memoir of the " Netherworld of Mendip," that a 
Roman cave was discovered at Cheddar, full of Roman pottery, 
coins, bones, and other remains, showing it to be one of the 
places that sheltered fugitives after the evacuation of Britain 
by the Roman legions. Probably this was one of the caves to 
which these panic-stricken miners fled to save themselves 
from their savage foe. 

Quarry-men also, like those of Portland and the Marblers 
of Purbeck, have also been long renowned upon the Mendips. 
Their quarries at Doulting, Shepton, Cranmore, Stoke Lane, 
and Emborough, in our neighbourhood, are well known. The 
splendid bed of Oolite at Doulting gives us an excellent close- 
grained building stone to face our houses with, and another 
more valuable stone still, locally called Bastard Freestone, a 
liassic conglomerate, was used for some of the older work of 
Wells Cathedral, as well as for Dinder and Croscombe churches. 
My friend, the Rev. H. H. Winwood, found that the smaller 
blocks lying about on the site of the barrow on Charmborough 
Hill were altered lias, called locally " Bastard Freestone," 
while the other larger blocks were pennant sandstone, and 
a ferruginous kind of pennant from Knight's quarry. 

A basalt stone for the roads was quarried largely at one 
time at Stoke, as well as granite near Binegar, but now our 
quartzite from Cook's-wood seems likely to cut it all out. 
Smelters of iron and zinc from calamine no doubt were also 
found, and must have formed a goodly community of free and 
independent workmen, like those in the Forest of Dean, whose 
iron forges ate up all the timber of the neighbourhood, and 
whose miners' laws and privileges are almost as interesting 
as those of Magna Charta. These old miners have all passed 
away, and their memory is becoming almost as remote and 



pre-historic as that of those earliest denizens of the Mendip, 
who once inhabited the caves of Cheddar, which, like 
Wookey Hole, were the home of the mammoth and woolly 
rhinoceros, the hyaena, the Irish elk and reindeer, the cave 
lion, bear and badger. 



•• 327 


3l6, 318, 420 

267, 421 



Addy, S 

Aldhelm, St. 
Alfred (King) 
Allen (Ralph) 
Amerigo Vespusie 
Anketyl (Ann) 
Anselm (Archbishop) 

Arminius Vambery 
Ashman (Rev. William) 
Atkinson (Dr.) 

Aubrey (John, Historian of Wilts) 

Augustine (St., of Canterbury) 

315, 316, 318 
Augustine (St., of Hippo) 
Aulus Plautius 
Badman (James) 
Baker (Sir E.) 

Bamfield (Sir Charles Warwick) 
Bamfield (Peter) . . 
Barclay (Alexander) 
Barclay, Perkins & Co. 
Bardsley (Professor) 
Baring-Gould (S.) 
Barnes (Rev. William) 
Barrow (Dr.) 
Basset (Sir William) 
Bateman (Thos.) . . 8 

Bath (Bishop of) . . . . . . 234 

Bath (Marquis of) . . . . 227 

Baxter . . . . . . . . 290 

Beaconsfield (Lord) . . . . 40 

Becket (Thomas a) . . 58, 349 

Beddoe (Dr. John) .. 1, 113 







312, 357 

•• 3i5 

82, 336, 397 

. . 280 





129, 155, 162 

. . 278 

62, 70, 79, 81 

54. !3o 

.. 271 


23, 269, 315, 316, 387 

Bedford (Jasper, Duke of) 

Bedford (Katrina, Duchess of) 

Bellamy (C. V.) 

Benedict Biscop 

Bennett (Mr.) 

Billingsley (C.) .. 217, 225, 2 

Blois (Peter de, Bishop) 

Blount (Thomas) . . 


Bonville (Lord) . . 


Bridget (St.) 

Brown (Bishop of Bristol) 


. . 287 
267, 299 
•• 234 
•• 64 
.. 311 
• • 318 

Browne (Sir Thomas) 
Bruce (Sir Robert) 
Buccleuch (Duke of) 
Bulleid (Arthur, M.D.) 
Bunn (Thomas) . . 
Bunyan (John) . . 
Burleigh (Lord) . . 
Burnet (Bishop) . . 
Bush (Thomas) . . 
Butler (George) . . 
Button (James) . . 


Cable (John) 

Caesar (Julius) 42, 


Candy (W. T.) . . 

Candy (A. T.) 

Canning (George) 

Carlingford (Lord) 




Catherine (St.) 


Charles I . . 

Charles II . . 

Chaucer . . 79 


Choke (Lord) 

Church (Canon) 

Clare (Earl of Gloucester) 

Clarence (George, Duke of) 

Claudia (Rutina) . . 

Claudius (Emperor) 

Claudius Gothicus 

Clayton (Colonel E.) 

Cobbett (William) 

Coleman (Rev. J. J.) 

Collinson (Rev. John) 

Compton (Lord) . . 

Compton (Lord Alwyne) 

Constantine the Great 


Copley (Captain) . . 

Coryatt (Tom) . . 

Cotele (Elias de) . . 

Courcelle (Roger de) 

Coutances (Bishop of) 


Cranmer (Archbishop) 

Cromwell (Lord) . . 

Cunobelinus (Cymbeline) 










81, 82 

• • 323 

252, 308, 406 

. 74, 269, 384 

1. 94 






.. 72 

169, 323, 324 



138, 163-176, 243 

343. 35o, 392, 418 

94. 95 



399. 4°3. 


















PERSONAL NAMES— continued. 


Dacres (Lord) . . . . . . 167 

Dante . . . . . . 156 

Davies (Miss Corsley) . . . . 181 

Davis (Thomas, of Longleat) . . 217 
Dawkins (Prof. Boyd) 6, 63, 114, 231 
Defoe (Daniel) . . . . . . 283 

Denton (Rev.) 142, 155, 171, 216, 276 
Denyse de Holcombe . . 324, 327 
Dickens (Charles) . . . . 1 89 

Dinan (Alan de) . . . . . . 400 

Ditchfield (P. H.) . . 9, 178 

Dorchester (Lady) . . . . 101 

Douglas (Black) . . . . . . 71 

Drayton . . . . 239, 255, 270, 422 

Du Chaillu . . .... 50 

Dudley (Dud) 263 

Dudley (Lord) . . . . . . 264 

Dunstan . . . . . . 265, 316 

Edward I .. 128, 344, 394 

Edward II . . . . . . 19 

Edward III . . 136, 139, 323 

Edward IV . . . . . . 233 

Edward VI . . . . 355, 357 

Edward VII 133 

Eleutherius (Pope) . . . . 315 

Elizabeth (Queen) 175, 186, 323, 344 
Elton (C. I.) 3, 112, 119, 232, 310 

Elworthy . . . . 36, 294, 299 

Emery (Joseph) . . . . . . 372 

Erasmus . . . . 58, 332, 355 

Erleigh (William de) . . . . 327 

Evans (Sir John, K.C.B.) 8, 293 

Evelyn (John) . . . . . . 409 

Eyton . . . . . . 401 

Fastolf (Sir John) 
Fiennes Moryson 
Fines Barrington . . 
Fitzhaman (Mabel) 
Fitzhaman (Robert) 
Fortescue (Sir John) 
Fortescue (Colonel R.) 
Fortescue (Hugh, Lord Clinton) 

96, 97. 368. 4°3 
Fortescue (Arthur) 

Fox (General Lane) 
Fox, of Wellington 
Fox (John) 
Francis I . . 
Freeman (Professor E 

250, 319, 400, 401 

Gasquet (Abbot) 

143. 330, 334. 338, 340 
George III . . 62, 222, 426 

•• 417 

73. 157 
.. 311 
.. 271 
•• 75 
96, 97 
96, 97. 4°3 

96, 97. 398, 403 



Gildas .. .. .. 315 

Girdlestone (Canon) . . . . 181 

Glanvil (Rev. Joseph) . . . . 290 

Gloucester (Richard, Earl of) . . 396 

Gloucester (Robert, of) . . 76, 402 

Gloyne (George) . . . . . . 278 

Gomme (G. H.) . . 49, 314, 404, 409 

Goodwin (Harvey, Bishop) . . 356 

Gordon (General) . . . . 296 

Gournay (Robert de) . . 42, 220 

Grattan . . . . . . . . 197 

Green (Emanuel, F.S.A.) no, 397 

Green (John Ashman) .. .. no 

Green (William Ashman) .. no 

Green (Robert Ashman) .. no 

Green (James Ashman) .. .. no 

Green well (Rev. J.) . . . . 10 

Gregory the Great (Pope) 315, 316 

Gresham (Sir Thomas) . . . . 265 

Gresswell (Rev. H. P.) .. 381,421 
Guest (Dr. Edwin) . . 23, 60, 273 

Gyan (Robert) . . . . . . 354 

Haggard (Rider).. .. 214, 270 

Hale (Sir Matthew) . . . . 290 

Hanow (General) . . . . . . 278 

Hardy (Thomas) . . . . . . 95 

Hare (Augustus) . . . . . . 38 

Harold (King) 187 

Harrison (John) . . . . 25, 239 

Hartgills (The) 154 

Harvey (Lloyd) . . . . . . 203 

Hawke (Admiral) . . . . 370 

Hawker (Rev. J.) . . 288, 289 

Hayden (Miss) .. .. 177, 180 

Hearn . . . . . . . . 304 

Henderson (S.) . . . . . . 9 

Henrietta Maria (Queen) . . 338 

Henry II . . . . . . 327 

Henry VIII 33, 138, 323, 344, 351 
Herrick . . . . . . 293 

Herveius de Holecombe. . 400, 401 
Hervey (Lord Arthur, Bishop of 

Bath and Wells) . . 250, 376 

Hervey (Denyse) . . 324, 399 

Hervey (Margaret) 324, 327, 399 

Herve de Holcombe . . 324, 377 
Herve de Leon . . . . 400 

Hill (Sir Roland) 198 

Hippisley (John) . . . . . . 109 

Hoare (Mr.) . . . . . . 155 

Hobhouse (Bishop) 175, 322, 329, 333 

Hogarth 286 

Holcombe (William de) . . . .401-2 

Holinshed 25, 141, 145, 239, 421 

Holland (Philemon) . . . . 241 

Hone (Nathaniel) 166, 388, 404 

Honorius . . . . . . . . 320 



PERSONAL NAMES— continued. 

Hope (St. John) . . . . . . 23 

Horace . . . . . . . . 297 

Horler (Hercules) . . . . 245 

Horner (John) . . . . . . 101 

Horner (Thomas) . . . . 101 

Horner (Colonel Thomas) . . 99 

Howe (Mistress) . . . . . . 272 

Hyde (Anne) . . . . . . 1 1 1 

Hyde (Sir Nicholas) . . . . in 

Hylton (Lord) .. 1, 41, 61, 163 

Ina (King) . . . . 43, 124 

Inigo Jones (General) . . . . 101 

James I . . . . . . 134, 346 

James (Chilcompton) 30, 87, 91, 227 

Jervase (Markham) . . . . 272 

Jessop (Dr. Augustus) . . . . 172 

John (King) . . . . 420, 421 

Johnson (Dr.) . . . . . . x. 

Johnson (Walter, F.G.S.) .. n 

Jones (Canon W. H.) . . . . 60 

Jonson (Ben) .. 146, 162, 352 

Joseph of Arimathea . . . . 33 

Julian (Emperor) . . . . 208 

Keevill . . . . . . . . 93 

Kemble (J. M.) . . 73, 282, 406 

Kennett (Bishop) . . 338, 398 

Kettle (Dr.) 272 

Keynsham (John, Abbot of) . . 402 

Kingsley (Charles) . . . . 132 

Lanfranc (Archbishop) . . . . 321 

Langland (William) 45, 141, 170, 212 
Latimer (Bishop Hugh) 

32, 48, 100, 216, 360 

Lawrence (St.) . . . . . . 320 

Laud (Archbishop) . . 354, 357 

Leir-Carleton (General R.) . . 91 

Leland .. .. 217, 239, 410, 421 

Lisle (Sir George) . . . . 264 

Livingstone (David) . . . . 391 

Long (William) . . . . . . 244 

Longfellow . . . . 268, 303 

Lovell (Lord) . . . . . . 72 

Lower . . . . . . 76, 81 

Lucius (King) . . . . . . 315 

Lynde (Sir Thos. de la) . . . . 415 

Macadam .. .. 187, 190, 191 

Macaulay (Lord).. 37, 197, 217, 386 

McClure, Secretary S.P.C.K. . . 35 
Macmurtrie (J., F.G.S.) 51, 186, 250 

Maine (Sir Henry) . . . . 389 

Malmesbury (William of) 23, 319 

Mansel (Sir Robert) . . . . 274 

Marcellinus (Ammianus) . . 34 

Martial (Satirist) 23, 


J 57 



Muller (Prof. Max) 


Mellitus (Abbot) 


Mitchell (Arthur) 



Mitchell (George) 


Mohun (Lady Joan de) . . 


Mohun (Philippa) 


Mohun (John de) 


Monmouth (Duke of) . . 





More (Sir Thomas) 







Nash (Beau) 


Nicholas (St.) 


Oates (Titus) 


Orrery (Lord) 


Osborne (Bernal) 


Osborne (Lord Sydney G.) 


Overend and Gurney Co. 


Owen (George) 



Padfield (Joseph) 


Padfield (W. H.) . . 


Page (J. L. W.) . . 


Paget (Sir R. H.) . . 


Palgrave (Sir F.) . . 


Palmerston (Lord) 


Pari (Andrew, Surgeon) . . 


Paris (Matthew) 


Parsons, Jesuit 


Paston (Clement) 


Patmore (Coventry) 


Patrick (St.) 


Paulton (Sir John) 





Pederton (John) 


Pepys (Samuel) . . 


Peel (Sir Robert) . . . . . . 100 

Pegge (Mr.) . . . . . . 271 

Penny (Rev. W.) . . . . . . 133 

Percival (Ascelin de) . . . . 71 

Percival (Gonal de) .. .. 71 

Percy (Algernon) . . . . . . 71 

Perfecte (Parfitt) 372 

Pierce, Bishop of Bath and Wells 357 
Piozzi (Mrs.) . . . . . . 422 

Pius IX (Pope) 298 

Play fair (Thomas) . . . . 358 

Pleydell (Colonel Mansell) . . 415 

Pleydell (Mr. Mansel) . . . . 280 

Pliny the Elder .. 58, 156, 252, 297 

Pliny the Younger 155 

Popham (Sir John) . . 199, 344 
Posidonius .. .. 119, 232 



PERSONAL NAMES— continued. 

Postumus (Emperor) .. .. 13 

Poulet (Sir Amias) . . . . t 284 

Poyntz (Sydenham) 

101, 102, 103, 188, 373 

Pratt (Tidd) . . . . . . 342 

Preece (Sir W.) . . . . . . 295 

Probus (Emperor) . . . . 269 

Prowse (Thomas, M.P.).. . . 189 

Pulman . . . . . . . . 43 

Purkiss . . . . . . . . 426 

Pytheas .. .. 117, 207, 232 


Ramsey (Dean) 

Ratcliffe (Sir Thomas) . . 



Richard II 
Richard III 
Richmont (Lord) 

Ridler (J. W.) 


Rogers (Prof. Thorold, M.P.) 

129, 133. Mi. !43. 167. 171. 

Rowe (Mrs.) 








1 86, 


87, 367 

• 36 

Salmon (John) . . 97, 243, 

Salmon (Tobia) 

Salmon (W. H.) . . 97. 373. 398, 

Salmon (James, of Writhlington) 

Salmon (James Eyre) 97, 98, 178, 

Scott (Sir Walter) .. 71 

Seebohm (F.) 

Selden (John) 



240. 3°4 


Shaw (T. H.) 

Siddons (Mrs.) 

Sigillo (Robert, Bishop of) 

Skelton, Poet 

Skinner (Rev. W., Camerton) . . 

Smith (Bosworth) 

Solinus . . . . . . 252, 


Sprorson (Jack) 

Stephen (King) 


Strype (Rev. John) 155, 285, 


Stourton (Lord) .. .. 154, 

Strabo . . . . 116, 232, 

Strong (William) 

Suetonius . . . . . . 187, 


Swift (Dean) 

Switzer (Stephen) 

Sydenham (Rev. Humphrey) . . 







Tacitus .. .. 208, 252, 310, 315 

Tapp (Lucius) '.. .. 223, 279 

Taylor (Isaac) . . vi., x., 43, 60 
Tertullian . . . . . . 315 

Thatcher & Co 278 

Thorny (Simon) . . . . . . 403 

Thurkilby (Roger de) . . 159, 287 
Thynne (Lord E.) . . . . 99 

Thynne (Sir James) . . . . 381 

Toke . . . . . . . . 271 

Tooke (Home) . . . . . . 32 

Tooker (John) . . . . . . 243 

Tooker, Hyde, Whalley, Salmon in 

Treasure 88, 89 

Trench (Archbishop) . . . . 328 

Treves (Sir F.) . . .. 154, 218 

Turner (Dr., Dean of Wells) 148, 414 
Tusser 132, 139, 161, 216, 219, 345 

Verneau . . . . . . ..114 

Vigore (Humphrey de Sancto) 107, 159 
Vigore (Thomas de Sancto) 169,. 409 
Vinogradoff (Prof.) . . . . 378 

Vitruvius . . . . . . 22, 187 

Vives (Ludovicus) . . . . 312 

Wadman (Horsington) . . 
Waldegrave (Lord) 


Walsh (Lawrence) 

Ward (John) 

Wemyss (Colchester) 

Wesley (John) . . 42, 290, 


Weyland Smith 


Whalley (Dr.) 

Whitaker (Rev. W. E.) . . 

White (Gilbert) .. 

Wilkinson (Sir J. Gardner) 

Winwood (Rev. H. H.) . . 

Wickham (Rev. Anthony) 

Wickham (Rev. Thomas) 

Wickham (James Anthony) 

Wickham (Whalley, Major) 

Wicliffe . . . . 35, 220, 

Wilkin de Erdington 

Willett (Ernest) 

William the Conqueror 321, 

William Rufus 

Wolsey (Cardinal) 


Wynslade (Stephen) 

Yarrenton (Andrew) 
Young (Arthur) 

. . 228 


.. 104 

•• 323 

x., 255 

361, 374 


•• 38i 

•• 376 

4°9. 425 


x., 428 

.. 188 

.. 188 

98, 99 


277. 345 



401, 419 







Agincourt . . . . . . 145 

Alauna . . . . . . . . 253 

Albury (Surrey) . . . . . . 55 

Ammerdown . . . . vii., 60, 226 

Anderida — Andredsweald . . 37 

Anglesea . . . . . . . . 310 

Arden (Forest of) 37, 406, 417 

Aries .. .. .. .. 187 

Arran (Isle of) . . . . 7 

Ashbury . . . . . . 59, 267 

Ashwick .. ,. .. 41, 188 

Augusta (London) . . . . 34 

Avignon . . . . . . 1 43 

Avon . . . . . . 39, 126 

Axbridge . . . . . . . . 421 

Axe 123, 415 

Babington 42, 109, 122, 276, 371, 396 

Bagshot . . . . . . . . 37 

Basingstoke . . . . . . 73 

Beckington . . . . . . 122 

Belisama (river) . . . . . . 306 

Binegar . . . . 158, 169, 428 

Birmingham . . . . . . 254 

Bath . . 60, 106, 305, 365, 400 

Battersea . . . . . . . . 39 

Bermondsey . . . . . . 39 

Beverley 37, 331 

Biggleswade .. .. .. 217 

Blackmore Vale . . . . . . 415 

Bocardo . . . . . . . . 31 

Boulogne . . . . . . . . 122 

Brad ford-on- A von 

60, 126, 224, 320, 411 

Brandon (Suffolk) .. 10, 112 

Brendon Hills . . . . . . 257 

Bridgwater . . 31, 143, 344, 407 
Bristol . . 108, 187, 274, 305, 390 

Brittany . . . . . . . . 44 

Brokenborough . . . . . . 60 

Brokenhurst . . . . . . 37 

Bruton . . . . . . . . 381 

Buckland Denham . . 387, 401 
Buckland Mynshyn 174, 324, 325, 369 

Buxted . . . . . . . . 255 

Cairo . . . . . . . . 296 

Camerton . . . . . . . . 42 

Cumulodunum . . . . . . 187 

Cassiterides . . . . . . 232 

Castle Ashby . . . . . . 408 

Castle Cary . . . . 72, 92, 400 

Castle Combe . . . . . . 216 


Castor on the Nen . . . . 16 

Cayford . . . . . . . . 154 

Charlton . . . . . . 42, 287 

Charmborough Hill . . 1 , 6, 302 

Charterhouse-on-Mendip . . 427 

Cheddar .. .. 216, 421, 428 

Chelmsford ., .. .. 187 

Chelsea . . . . . . . . 39 

Chepstow . . . . . . . . 253 

Chester . . . . . . 36, 39 

Chilcompton .-. . . 62, 84 

Chilton-upon-Polden . . . . 19 

Chippenham . . . . 34, 381 

Chiselhurst .. .. .. 12 

Cirencester . . . . . . 60 

Coleford, Forest of Dean . . 253 

Coleford, Somerset . . 32, 81 

Cologne . . . . . . . . 82 

Congresbury . . . . 49, 340 

Coniston . . . . . . . . 255 

Constance . . . . . . 316 

Corinium . . . . . . . . 123 

Cowden . . . . . . . . 37 

Cranborne Chase . . .. .. 167 

Crayford 12 

Croscombe 41, 96, 333, 337, 403, 428 

Cumberland . . . . . • 41 

Curry Malet .. .. 63, 102 

Curry (North) .. 354. 37*. 381 

Cussada Gardens . . . . . - 102 




54> 130 

Dean, Forest of 

x., 12, 37, 88, 113, 236, 255, 428 





Deverell . . 

. . 169 


192, 400 

Ditcheat . . 

91. 150 


. . 270 

Ditmarsh . . 


Doulting . . 

. 186, 318, 372, 428 


103, 320 



Dunster . . 


Durham . . 

347. 38o 

East Cheap 

35. 417 


92, 39o 


191, 428 








PLACE NAMES — continued. 



Epping Forest 

•• 417 

Keynsham Abbey 


, 102, 73, 3: 


.. 416 




.. 416 

Kilmersdon 41, 



396, 4OI 




122, 154 

Exeter . . . . 123 

, I89, 232, 267 




54, 420 


• 233 



•• 387 

Kingswood Forest 


. . 276 


, 75, 


26l, 425 

Flat Holme 


Knight s Farm . . 



•• 143 


•• 259 

Fosse Way 

42, 186 




.. I87 



38, 42O 

Froome (River) . . 

. . 239 





• • 232 

98, 224, 274, 279, 290, 

355, 381, 407 




220, 282 

Furniss (High) 

• • 256 


.. 217 


3. 64 

Lincoln's Inn Fields 
Lipyeat Green 

62, 163 


• • 231 


34, 359 






. 94 


viii., 408 

Giant's Ground . . 

• 63 



Gillingham (Kent) 

. . 208 


3, 122 

Gillingham (Dorset) 

122, 291, 406 


.. 287 


75, 113 


.. 306 


Lymington (Yeovil) 

.. 284 

33, 38, 85, 14c 

►,277,306, 316 


217, 270, 273 


•• 390 

Gnossal (Staffs.) . . 

• •• 47 


60, 316 

Green Ore 

. . 234 


198, 326 



Malvern Hills 
Man, Isle of 

.. 141 

Hague, The 

61, 197 


286, 422 


.. 223 


117, 231 


122, 403 



Hardway (The) . . 

•• 233 

Mayfield .. 



265, 382 

Hartland Point . . 

. 231 

Mells viii., 42, 57, 



103, 370 


■ 415 

Mendips (The) 



19, 34, 



416, 421 


. 187 

Mendip Lodge 

. . • 422 

Haye Saint, La . . 

. 61 


.. 114 


. 205 


63, 85 


• "3 

Middlezoy. . 

• • 38 



Midsomer Norton 


. 19, 24, 114 

32, 35, 4* 

, 80, 


103, 366 


• • 232 

Milborne Port 

355. 381 



•• 193 

55, 188, 196, 291, 

346, 365, 414 

Modbury Down . . 

.. 396 


.. 18 


•• 63 

.. 187 




, 95, 182 

35, 107, 158, 232, 

282, 348, 420 

Moor field 



41. 193 


.. 38 



Mull (Isle of) 







99, 2 

28, 403 


. . 298 



PLACE NAMES— continued. 





Sherwood^Forest'. . 



237. 279 " 


.. 117 

New Forest 

13°. 419 

Silver Street 



.. 187 

Soho Square 


Norton St. Philip 


169, 224 


276, 306 

Notting Hill 



158, 420 




.. 278 
•• 39 




147, 291 


.. 187 

Steep Holme 

.. 40 


99, 33 6 

Stoat's Nest (Railway Station) . . 52 

Orme's Head 

92, 311 

Stockland Gaunts 


Ossory (Upper) . . 

.. 311 

Stoke St. Michael's 


.. 380 


56, 186, 

370. 428 

Ower Moigne 

•• 154 

Stone Easton 


no, 272 



Stony-Littleton . . 

3, 65 


329, 360 


169, 254 


Pall Mall 

•• 163 

Stratton-on-the-Fosse 32, 42, 

159, 183 




.. 42 




•• 257 

Parret (river) 


Pedewelle or Padewell . 



.. 231 




.. 231 



337, 340 


.. 308 



328, 412 


.. 187 





189, 411 


.. 428 

Tees (River) 


Prior Park 



. . 284 

Pulham Bridge . . 

•• 415 

Thames (River) . . 

• • 39 

Purbeck, Isle of 


363, 428 

Thanet, Isle of . . 

120, 232 

. . 312 

Quantock Forest 

399, 4° 6 


• • 95 


.. 113 


•• 257 

Radstock . . 32, 42, 93 

, 242, 250, 412 

Tunbridge Wells . . 

.. 84 


.. 326 








.. 117 

Rome . . . . 8, 


315, 320 


.. 232 


•• 253 


•• 273 

Vannes (Brittany) 


Rowton Heath . . 




.. 187 

St. Leonard's Forest 

.. 167 




31, 232 


3i, 4 2 

240, 418 

Savernake Forest 


Scilly Isles 

64, 232 




50, 92 


29, 124 


•• 255 






•• 332 



406, 420 

Waltham (Hants) 

166, 425 

Severn (River) . . 


254, 421 


29, 42 

328, 412 


.. 421 


.. 124 

Shepton Mallet . . 


224, 428 


.. 312 

Sherborne Abbey 292, 


320, 420 


.. 312 

Sherwood Forest . . 



.. 282 

Shetland Islands . . 



■ • 312 



PLACE NAMES— continued. 



. 192, 381, 411, 421 

Woodford (Wilts) 


Welton . . 

27, 29 

Woodlands (The) 

92, 425 

Westfield .. 



• • 254 


143, 193 

Wookey Hole 

240, 429 



Wolverhampton . . 

• • 254 




.. 123 


107, 331, 354 

Wye (River) 

• • 253 


32, 42, 257, 401 

Weyhill (Fair) . 



87, 257 


Yatton . . • • 333. 

337, 340, 355 
284, 341 


181, 290, 367 


• • 305 


191, 232 

Windsor Forest . 



.. 116 



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